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" No apology shall be made for presenting the world with an account of Corsica." 

An Account of Corsica, Jame"s Boswell, 1768. 

" So, then, you were determined to come and see Corsica ? You have done rightly to hasten your 
visit, for in a very few years, thanks to the hand of progress and civilisation, they who come to seek for 
Corsica will not find it." — The Corsican Brothers, a Dramatic Romance. 

"If the diurnal record of the traveller be not always the form of narrative most agreeable to the reader, 
it is, or ought to be, more faithful than any other, and consequently more useful to those who visit the 
countries described, especially when those countries have been little explored." — Travels in Northern 
Greece, Col. Leake, Vol. I. 




\The Right of Translation is Reserved.} 



of the inner temple, 

formerly member of the supreme council of justice, 

in the Ionian Islands, 

and still earlier the companion of my travels in greece, 

these illustrated journals in corsica are inscribed, 

by his affectionate friend, 


London, 1 869. 


In the years 1846, 1849, and 1852, I published illustrated journals of tours in 
Central and Southern Italy, and in Albania, three books which met with a 
successful reception from the Public, and were very kindly noticed by the 

The present volume consists of journals written with the same intent and 
plan as those which preceded them. They describe, nearly word for word 
as they were written, my impressions of the nature of the landscape in those 
portions of Corsica through which I travelled. It is possible that the literary 
part of this book may not prove of equal interest with that of the publica- 
tions above named ; not, indeed, from any want of merit in the subject, but 
because I have now no longer the help of friends who then kindly assisted me 
by their criticisms, especially the late Robert A. Hornby, Esq., and Richard 
Ford, Esq. But the aim of all these journals should be looked on as the 
same, simply to be aids to the knowledge of scenery which I have visited and 

I passed last winter at Cannes, intending to return early in the spring to 
Palestine, for the purpose of completing drawings and journals for a work 
already partly advanced ; but circumstances having prevented me from carry- 
ing out this plan, I decided on going to Corsica, rather perhaps on account of 
its being a place near at hand and easily reached, than from any distinct 
impression as to the nature of the country, or from any particular interest in 
its history, inhabitants, or scenery. It is true that the Corsican mountains are 
sometimes visible from Cannes at sunrise, and latterly I had read M. Prosper 
Merimee's beautiful little tale of " Colomba," the scene of which lies in Cor- 
sica ; but I confess to having been chiefly led to think of going there by that 
necessity which the wandering painter — whose life's occupation is travelling 

viii PREFACE. 

for pictorial or topographic purposes — is sure to find continually arising, that 
of seeing some new place, and of adding fresh ideas of landscape to both 
mind and portfolio — 

" For all experience is an arch, wherethrough 
Gleams the untravell'd world, whose margin fades, 
For ever and for ever when I move." 

It was growing late in the spring when I had decided on going to Corsica, 
and time did not allow of my procuring books (though plenty have been 
written on the subject) or maps. Valery's "Voyages en Corse," published so 
long back as 1837, was the only guide I could obtain; nor did I happen to fall 
in with any one who knew the Corsica of 1868. M. Prosper Merimee's visit 
to the island had occurred many years back (though he most kindly procured 
me letters of introduction which proved of great value). One friend wrote that 
though there were roads, there were no carriages ; another that a yacht was the 
only means of seeing a place, the interior of which was intolerable for want of 
accommodation. My ignorance was not bliss, and I would have got knowledge 
if I could ; but as there was no remedy, and as I intended to pass some eight 
or ten weeks there, I prepared to go to Corsica as I should have done to any 
other land of unknown attributes, where I might find the necessity of roughing 
it daily or nightly, or the contrary ; it cannot, I thought, be worse than 
travelling in Albania or Crete, long journeys through both of which countries 
I have survived. 

A few words on the arrangements preliminary to such travelling may be 
allowed. Some there are who declaim against carrying much luggage, and 
who reduce their share of it to a minimum. From these I differ, having far 
more often suffered from having too little " roba " than too much. Clothing 
for travelling comfortably in hot or cold climates, such as must be experienced 
in the plains and mountains of an island so varied in formation as Corsica, 
and for different phases of social life during an extended tour; great amount 
of drawing material, folios, paper, &c. ; an indian-rubber bath; above all, a 
small folding camp or tent bed, of good use in many a long journey in Albania, 
Syria, &c, and in which I am sure of sleep anywhere ; these, mostly contained 
in a brace of strong saddle-bags, form a goodly assortment of luggage, and 
eventually I found it to be not one iota too much. 

Then, as to travelling alone, the prospect of which is dreadful to some, I 


almost always do so by preference, because I cannot otherwise devote every 
moment to my work, or so arrange plans as to insure their success. Some- 
times, indeed, I have made exceptions to this rule, yet only in cases where 
my fellow-travellers were not only as eager draftsmen as myself, and where I, 
being their senior, as well as instructor in sketching, could define and follow 
alt my own plans exactly and without hindrance. Strictly speaking, how- 
ever, it is long since I made any tours really alone, as various sharp illnesses 
have taught me the great inconvenience of doing so ; and I have frequently 
been thankful for the care of a good servant who has travelled with me for 
many years. George Kokali, a Suliot, speaking several languages, sober, 
honest, and active, saves me all trouble and gives none ; now carrying a 
weight of cloaks and folios and " daily bread " for a twenty-mile walk or 
more, anon keeping off dogs and bystanders when I am drawing, or cooking 
and acting as house-servant when stationary ; a man of few words and 
constant work. 

Those who go to Corsica hoping to study antiquities will be disappointed ; 
for the manifold charms of classical countries are wanting there ; the long 
lines of Grecian plains, so crowded with spots full of historic and poetic 
memories, vast and beautiful remains such as those of Sicily, Syria, or Egypt, 
do not exist in it ; neither will he find the more modern beauties of 
architecture, the varied forms of tower or castle, mosque, cathedral, or 
monastery, with which Albania or Italy abound. On the other hand, the 
ever varying beauties of light and shade in mountain and valley, the contrast 
of snowy heights and dark forests, the thick covering of herb and flower, 
shrub and tree, from the cyclamen and cystus to the ilex, oak, beech, and 
pine, these are always around him, and he will find that every part of Corsica 
is full of scenes stamped with original beauty and uncommon interest, 
Equally will the tourist through the Corsica of our days fail in finding any- 
thing of romance there, except in the traditions of the past. If it were, in 
travelling through Calabria twenty years since, a disappointment to find no 
pointed hats, and no brigand costume, how much more so is it to find that 
Corsica, once the very fountain-head of romance, no longer possesses any, 
that you may walk from Capo Corso to the Straits of Bonifacio in the undis- 
turbed monotony of security, and that all gloomy atmosphere of risk and 


danger has for years past been dispersed by the broad daylight of French 
administration and civilisation ? With old customs and costumes, mystery 
and murder have alike disappeared from the Corsica of 1868. 

A slight sketch of Corsican history, together with some information 
concerning its geography, its inhabitants, &c, matters which to many readers 
will prove of interest, but which it was not easy to incorporate with the 
"Journal," will be found separately annexed ; and copious details are added 
in the shape of notes extracted from books I have read since my return from 
the island (see list, page 269), from which may be gathered impressions of the 
improved state of Corsica now, contrasted with that it was in at the time of 
the visits of earlier authors. 

A certain monotony of narrative must needs be the result of monotony of 
travel ; and the recital of a tour made in a carriage, cannot, I imagine, be 
made very attractive, if the writer simply records his own impressions. Many 
of the illustrations, however, were made in short pedestrian excursions, 
particularly in the forests, at some distance from the high road. 

One drawback to my visit, but one I could not avoid, was its shortness : 
far too little time was devoted to delineating so large a space of country. 

To these remarks I will add, that in spite of the want of classical interest 
throughout Corsica, the memory of my visit to it becomes fresher and more 
interesting as time goes on ; nor do I despair of returning to it, to see some 
portions of the island I much regret not having visited — Niolo, the Casinca, 
the Coscione, Rostino, and the coast from Calvi to Porto. Of the Corsicans, 
too, I would gladly add a word as to their general courtesy and good 
breeding, and their hospitable welcome in places where no inns exist ; and, 
among other pleasant recollections, this should not pass unnoticed, namely, 
that there are no beggars in Corsica, a fact contrasting agreeably with the 
persecutions met with in some other countries. 

Note.— With the exception of six of the large plates, and ten of the vignettes, the whole of the 
eighty illustrations have been drawn on wood by myself from my original sketches. And I gladly 
take this opportunity of thanking MM. Pibaraud, Pegard, Pannemaker, Badoureau, and Mr. J. D. 
Cooper, for the care and accuracy zvith which they have engraved the drawings submitted to their 




AJACCIO (Plate I.) 

AJACCIO (Plate II.) 


OLMETO (Plate IV.) 

SARTENE (Plate V.) 














VICO (Plate XXIV.) 





CORTE (Plate XXIX.) 





ST. FLORENT (Plate XXXIV.) ... 





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J. D. Cooper 



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CEMETERY NEAR AJACCIO ... ... Pannemaker 







TOMBS AT SARTENE ... ... ... Badoureau 







ZONZA ... ... ... ... ... Badoureau 

SANTA LUCIA DI TALLANO ... ... Badoureau 

GROSSETO... ... ... ... ... Badoureau 


PIGS ... ... ... ... ... Badoureau 


EVISA ... ... ... ... ... Badoureau 



VICO ... ... ... ... ... Badoicreau 




CASABIANDA ... ... Pannemaker 

ALERIA ... ... ... ... ... Pannemaker 

ERBALUNGA ... ... ... ... Pannemaker 

VALE OF LURI Pannemaker 

SENECA'S TOWER j, D , Cooper 

BAS1IA ... ... ... ... ... Paiuiemaker 

ALGAYOLA .. ... ... ... ... Pannemaker 

CALVI ... ... ... ... Pannemaker 


MOUFFLON Badoureau 












2 33 




Passage from Nice to Corsica — Les lies Sanguinaires, and Entrance to the Gulf of Ajaccio — 
Cemetery — First Impressions on Landing at Ajaccio — Helix Tristis — Hotels — Hotel de 
Londres — Dress of Corsicans — The Cours Grand val — Beautiful Scenery near the City — 
Napoleon's Grotto — Picturesque Vegetation — Walk along the Shore to the Campo Santo — 
Loneliness of the Neighbourhood of Ajaccio — Italian Dialect in use by the People— Infor- 
mation about Carghese, the Greek Colony in Corsica — Unfavourable Weather — The Eastern 
Harbour of Ajaccio — Tomb of Pozzo di Borgo — Scattered Tombs or Monuments — The Place 
Letitia— M. Galloni d'Istria, his Assistance and Information — Speculations as to the Best 
Mode of Seeing all Corsica — Decide on Hiring a Carriage — The Three Students, and their 
Purchases — Arrangements as to Route, Baggage, &c. — Celebration of Easter in Ajaccio — 
Views from the Walks near Napoleon's Grotto, their great Beauty — Plague of Little Boys 
— Miss C. and her Interest in Corsica — Morning Studies above the Cours Grandval — Broccio, 
or Cream-cheese — Gourds — The House where Napoleon I. was Born — Letters of Introduction i 


Trial Trip in a Carriage — The Lower Penitencier at Castelluccio — St. Antonio, its Grand Scenery 
and Granite Boulders — Visits with Miss C. — The Prefecture — Moufflons — Leave Ajaccio for 
the South of the Island — Peter the Coachman — Miss C.'s Predictions — Campo dell' Oro — 
Valley of the Prunelli, and Beautiful Scenes — Cauro — " Hotels " in Corsican Villages — Mrs. 
Paoloni and her Inn; its Accommodation, &c. — The Col di San Giorgio — "Maquis" and 
Wild Flowers — Valley of the Taravo — Descent to Grosseto — The "Hotel des Amis ; " Civil 
People and Good Fare — Ilex Trees — Quiet Civility of Corsicans — Beautiful Drive by the 
River, and Ascent to Bicchisano — Winding Mountain Road to Casalabriva, and Descent to 
Olmeto — The "Hotel" — Picturesqueness of the Town and its Situation — Tombs — Olive 
Slopes and Woody Scenery — Rain — Visit to a Sick Englishman — Leave Olmeto — Charming 
Scenery — Gulf of Valinco — Propriano and its Port — Valley of the Tavaria — Extremely fine 
Landscape — Long Ascent to Sartene — Description of the Town — " Hotel d'ltalie " — Fatima 
of Sartene — Views of Sartene and the Valley — M. Vico, and his advice about farther Travel- 
ling ; Bavella, &c. — Constant Work for the Painter — A Day by the Rocks of the Tavaria ; 
Exquisite Subjects for Pictures — Granite Rocks and Foliage by the River — Mourning in 
Corsica — Fatima's Opinions about Household Cleanliness ..... .28 


Leave Sartene — Landscape at Early Morning — Valley of the Ortola — Verdure of Corsica — Wild 
Flowers — Lion Rock at Roccaspina — Coast Road — Lonely Village of Monaccia — Uncultivated 
and Wild Country — Low and Unhealthy Tract — Creeks of Figari and Ventilegne — First 
Views of Bonifacio — Descent to its Picturesque Harbour — Appearance of the Fortress and 
Town — Good Carriage Road — Fortifications — Narrow Streets — Widow Carreghi's Hotel — 
Walk through Bonifacio — Its most singular Position and extreme Picturesqueness — Obliging 
People of the Hotel — Dr. Montepagano, the Maire — View of Bonifacio from the Cliffs 
opposite, and great Beauty of its Aspect — The Conscripts' Farewell Fete — Staircases at 
Bonifacio— Walk with Dr. Montepagano, and Visit to the Convent of La Santa Trinita — 
Leave Bonifacio — Road — Groves of Olives— " Maquis "—Wild Flowers — Reach Porto 
Vecchio — Its Decayed Appearance — Madame Gianelli's Hotel — M. Quenza, the Maire— 



Wild and Beautiful Views of Porto Vecchio, its Gulf and Hills — Excellent Roads in Corsica ; 
Security ; Good Breeding of People — Climate of Porto Vecchio— Visit to the Forest of 
Spedale — Cork Woods— M. Quenza a good Companion — Blackbirds — Scenery of the Moun- 
tains of Spedale — Its Pine Forests, and extensive Views— Return to Porto Vecchio— Ento- 
mology in its Neighbourhood — Its Reputed Unhealthiness in Summer — Leave Porto Vecchio 
— The Bastia Diligence — Plains of Fiumorbo, their broad and beautiful Character — The 
River Vabolesco, and the Mountains beyond — Migliacciara, its Hotel and Surrounding 
Scenery — Road through Cork Woods and Thick Vegetation; Tracks of "Maquis" — Gulfs 
of Pinarello and Tower of Fautea — Road Along the Shore — Flowers — Birds — Porto Favone, 
its quiet Beauty — Peter the Coachman becomes Disagreeable — Solenzaro — -Hotel of the Widow 
Orsola — Information about the Forest of Bavella and the Road to Aleria — M. Mathieu — 
Beautiful River Scene and Chapel ........... 54 


Set out for Aleria — Pass the Fiumorbo River — Beauty of Wide Plains at early Morning — Hamlet 
of Ghisonaccio — Cultivation of the Plain rouni the Site of Aleria — The Penitencier of Casa- 
bianda — M. Benielli — Position of ancient Aleria ; its magnificent Prospect — The Tavignano 
and distant Mountain Range — Hospitable Reception at Casabianda — Walk towards the Baths 
of Pietrapola, and Return to Migliacciara — The Bastia Diligence and Supper — Leave Miglia- 
cciara — -The River Travo — Beautiful Effects of Light and Shade on the Plains of Fiumorbo 
— Return to Solenzaro— Widow Orsola's Hotel — Leave Solenzaro for the Mountains — Grand 
Scenery of the Pass to the Forests of Bavella — Steep Ascent — Immense Hewn Pine Trunks 
— Rocca Pinsuta— Peter the Coachman — Reach the Bocca di Larone — Magnificent Amphi- 
theatre of Crags and Forest — Descent to the Forest of Bavella — Thunderstorm and Rain — 
Difficulty of Ascent to the Maison dell' Alza — Peter the Passionate — Pleasant Reception by 
M. Mathieu — A Day in Bavella — Glories of the Forest — Leave the Maison dell' Alza — 
Splendour of the Great Pine Woods and Crags —Descent from Bavella to the Village of Zonza 
— Pass through San Gavino and Levie — Arrive at Santa Lucia di Tallano — -Hotel, and Visit 
from Don G. Giacomone — Dr. Bennet, of Mentone — Churches and Convents of Santa Lucia 
di Tallano — Hospitable Breakfast at Don G. Giacomone's — His Family and House — Wines 
of Tallano — Leave Santa Lucia, and descend to the Vallev of the Tavaria — Return to 
Sartene — Peter's Homily upon Patience — Fatima's Polished Floors — Her Confidences and 
Misfortunes — View of Sartene from above the Town — Return by Propriano to Olmeto — Visit 
to Mr. B. — Walk to Casalabriva— Meet Miss C. — Scenery of the Taravo — Cippo the Goat 
— Return to Grosseto .............. 79 


Ilex Woods of Grosseto— Return to Cauro— Mdme. Paoloni's Good Cheer— Set out for Bastelica— 
Peter the Coachman's ill treatment of his Horses— Ministers of Finance — Woody Valley 
—Charcoal Burners— Extent of "Maquis"— Forest House and Mill— Peter, being left to his 
own devices, cruelly beats his Horses — They back to the edge of the Precipice, into which they 
and the Carriage fall — Fulfilment of Miss C.'s Predictions— Assistance procured from the 
Forest House— The Painter walks on to Bastelica, and returns with a Car and Mules — 
Situation of Bastelica— Well-bred Children— Night passed in the Forest House— Return by 
a Mule Car to Cauro and Ajaccio— Stay at the Hotel de Londres— M. Lambert— Plans 
to visit the great Forests of A'itone, and Valdoniello, and the Greek Colony— M. Gery, the 
Prefet of Corsica— Search for a second Carriage, and hire one from Jean Carburo the Vaudois 
—Dinner at the Prefecture— Leave Ajaccio for the Forests and North-West Coasts— Flora 
the Dog, and Domenico the new Driver— Ascent to, and View from San Sebastiano — 
Calcatoggio : Descent to Sea Shore — Mid-day Halt— Valley and Plain of the Liamone— 
Sagona — Promontory of Carghese— The Village Hotel— The Greek Priest and the Colony- 
Cultivation of the neighbouring Lands— Greek seldom spoken now at Carghese— Growth of 
Cactus— Papa Michele's Information — Gardens and Nightingales — Cheerful Aspect of 
Carghese— The "Greek" Church — The Gendarmerie, and Introductions to Persons at the 
Forests— Leave Carghese— Mountain Scenery, and Green "Maquis"— Magnificent Views 
about La Piana— The Village, and its clean and good little Inn ...... 109 




Glorious Scenery — Leave La Piana — Extraordinary Pass among Rocks — Descent to Gulf of Porto 
— Finest Portion of Corsican Coast Landscape — Tower of Porto — Great Timber Works 
of M. Chauton — M. and Madame Ceccaldi — Superb Scenery of the Valley of Otta— Grass- 
hopper.-Pigs — The Gorge or Pass below Evisa ; exceeding Grandeur of Views — Evisa — 
Unsatisfactory " Hotel" — Beautiful Scenery beyond Evisa — Great Forest of A'itone — Bombyx 
Processionaria — Vast and magnificent Forest Scenery — Variety of Trees — Reach the Forest of 
Valdoniello — Valley of Niolo — Enormous Pines — Descent to M. Chauton's Establishment — 
Pine Forest wScenery in perfection — Hospitable reception by M. and Madame Ruelle — 
Pleasant Evening and agreeable Company — A Day in Valdoniello — Effects of Sunrise in the 
Forest — Gigantic Trees — Cloud and Rain — Leave Valdoniello and return by A'itone to Evisa 
— Madame Carrara's excellent little Hotel and good Breakfast — Drive from Evisa to 
Cristinaccie — Great Ilex and Chesnut Woods — Domenico the Coachman's Music — Beautiful 
Drive ; ever delightful greenness of Corsican Landscape — Walks in the Valley of Vico — 
Great Extent of Chesnut Woods — Vico — Picturesqueness cum Dirt — Leave Vico and descend 
to Sagona — Mid-day Halt by the Seaside — Flora's exemplary Conduct — Jelly-Fish and 
Amaryllises — Return to Ajaccio . . . . . . . . . . . .130 


Plans for a Third Tour in the Island — A Visit to Mellili, the Country House of the Euonaparte 
Family — The Great Ilex Tree — The Deserted Gardens — Thoughts at Mellili — Revisit the 
Rocks of St. Antoine — Set Off on a Third Tour — Good Road along the Valley of the 
Gravona — Laden Timber Carts — Gardens and Cultivation — Burned Forest of Vero — Cloud 
and Rain — Reach Bocognano — The " Cafe des Amis" — M. Berlandi — His Account of People 
Lost in the Forests — Weather Clear, and shows Monte d'Oro magnificently — Imposing and 
Grand Scenery — Great Chesnut Woods — Visit to the House whence Napoleon Escaped — 
Tranquil and Sombre Character of the Landscape and Villages — Leave Bocognano — Pass 
between Monte d'Oro and Monte Renoso — Beautiful View from the Top of the Bocca or 
Pass — Burned Forest of Vizzavona — Descent to the Village of Vivario — Domenico and Flora 
are found there — No Room in the Hotel — Decide on going on to Ponte del Vecchio — 
Reach Serraggio — Very Beautiful Scenery — Pass Lugo and Sta. Maria di Venaco — Chesnut 
Woods— Descent to the Valley of the Tavignano — Approach to Corte — Its Appearance — 
Citadel Bridge — Interior of the Town — Fete and Confusion — No Room in the Hotel— Diffi- 
culty in obtaining Lodgings — M. Corteggiani — A Small Locanda found — Porters of Corte 
— A Sleepless Night .............. 152 


Reflections on the Difficulty experienced in Drawing Landscape — Call on M. Corteggiani — 
Visit to the House of Gaffori, Citadel, &c. — Views of Corte — Dinner at M. Corteggiani's 
— Corte from above the River Tavignano — Statue of Paoli — Red Deer — View of Corte 
from the Bastia Road — Leave Corte — White Umbrellas — Road along the Valley of the 
Tavignano — Distant view of the Fiumorbo Plains and Casabianda — Halt to Draw Aleria 
— Arrive at Casabianda — Kind Reception by M. and Mdme. Beurville — M. de la Hitolle — 
Pleasant Dinner and Evening — French Riddles — Early Rising and Drawing — Noble View of 
the Plains and Mountains — Leave Casabianda — Memories of the Roman Campagna — Undu- 
lating Plain — Deserted Tracts of Country — Bee Eaters — Approach to Cervione — Cultivation — 
Pleasant Lanes and Green Foliage — Reach Cervione— Its Position — The Inn — Return to the 
Bastia Road — Turn off towards Vescovato — Walk up to the Town — Beautiful Approach 
— Numerous Peasants returning Home — Picturesque Appearance of Vescovato — M. Gravie's 
Lodging — His Conversation . . . . . . . . . . . .169 


Leave Vescovato — M. Gravie's Sadness— Return to the Bastia Road — Valley and Bridge of the 
Golo — Etang de Biguglia — City of Mariana — Great Cultivation, and Increase of Population — 
Diligences — Cemetery — Arrive at Bastia — Lively Appearance of Bastia — Hotel de France — 
Description of the Town and Port — Gourds and Chains — Plans for the rest of Corsican Tours 



— A Day in the Vicinity of Bastia — Difficulty of Drawing in a High Road — Leave Bastia 
for Cap Corse— Sea-shore Road— Distant View of Elba— Capo Sagro-Sisco— Valley of L*uri 
—Village of Piazza di Luri— Madame Cervoni's tidy and pleasant House — Luri is to be the 
farthest point I visit in the North of Corsica— White Wine of Luri— Silkworms— Industry of 
Cap Corse—Visit to Seneca's Tower— Ascent— Great Beauty of the Valley — Road to Pino— 
Tablet in the Rock— Capuchin Convent— View from it— M. Tomei — Leave Piazza di Luri and 
return to Bastia . ..........•••• 188 


Leave Bastia — Ascent — Gardens — View over the Plain of Biguglia — Range of the Nebbio Hills — 
Gulf of St. Florent — Pass between Rocks — Town of St. Florent — Hotel des Passageurs — 
Arrival of Ironclads — Solitude around St. Florent — Picturesque Houses — Excellent Cheer at 
M. Donzella's Inn — New Beds — Leave St. Florent — Scenery on the North of Corsica — 
Approach to lie Rousse ; its Picturesque Bay and Rocks — Interior of the Town -Hotel De 
Giovanni — The demure Waitress — Leave lie Rousse — Algayola, its deserted appearance — 
Beautiful Scenery of the Balagna — Village of Lumio — Bay of Calvi, and approach to the Town 
— Legend of the Imprudent Bishop — Forsaken Condition of Calvi ; its Fortifications — Civility 
of Corsican Innkeepers — Calvi the Faithful— Neighbourhood of Calenzana .... 209 


Leave Calvi— Its Grand Position and Mournful Decay — Sadness of Corsican Singing — The Road 
along the Upper Balagna — Extreme Richness and Beauty of Scenery — Claude-like Landscapes 
— Cheerfulness of the Valleys, and profuse Vegetation — Lavatoggio and other Villages — Views 
of Cap Corso from Muro of Balagna — Pretty Churches and Architecture — Numerous Hamlets 
— Approach to Belgodere, and difficulty of finding a Hotel there — Position of the Village — 
Friendliness of M. Malaspina, Maire of Belgodere — His hospitable House and pleasant Family 
— Leave the Maire's House — Change of Scenery — Descent to the Valley of the Asco — The 
Broken Bridges — Village of Ponte della Leccia ; its very indifferent Accommodation and 
unlively Appearance — Regret at not being able to visit Morosaglia, the Birthplace of General 
Paoli — Return to Corte — Difference between the Inns of the Country and of the Towns of 
Corsica ................ 227 


Leave Corte — Return to Venaco, and Walk to Lugo and Serraggio — Visit to the Moufflon — Mid- 
day Halt in a Chesnut Wood — Blackbirds and Nightingales — Thunderstorm — Return to Vivario 
■ — The Hotel there- — The Handsome Daughters of the Landlady — Praises of Miss C. — Fine 
Weather and Return late to Ponte del Vecchio — Grand Scenery near it — Leave Vivario — 
Ascent to the Forest of Sorba — Another Beautiful Forest — Distant View of the Plains of 
Fiumorbo — Arrival at Ghisoni — Smartness of its Hotel — Rain and Storm — Gloomy Position 
of Ghisoni — The Road to the Forest of Marmano — Great Rocks of Kyrie Eleison — The 
Convict Settlement or Penitencier in the Pine Forest — Doctor Casanova — Early Morning in 
the Forest of Marmano — The Col de Verde and Long Descent to Cozzano — Loss of a Horse- 
shoe, and Delay — Unruly Charcoal Burners — Great Valley of Guitera — Hotel of the Baths — 
Hot Springs of Guitera — The Pleasant Waitress — Ascent to Zicavo ; Description of theVillages 
—Return to Guitera — Beautiful Valleys between Guitera and the Sea — Santa Maria Zicche — 
Return to Grosseto, Cauro, and Ajaccio — Leave Ajaccio for Nice ....... 238 









Passage from Nice to Corsica— Les lies Sanguinaires, and Entrance to the Gulf of Ajaccio — Cemetery — ■ 
First Impressions on Landing at Ajaccio — Helix Tristis — Hotels — Hotel de Londres — Dress of 
Corsicans — The Cours Grandval — Beautiful Scenery near the City — Napoleon's Grotto — Picturesque 
Vegetation — Walk along the Shore to the Campo Santo — Loneliness of the Neighbourhood of 
Ajaccio — Italian Dialect in use by the People — Information about Carghese, the Greek Colony in 
Corsica — Unfavourable Weather— The Eastern Harbour of Ajaccio — Tomb of Pozzo di Borgo — 
Scattered Tombs or Monuments — The Place Letitia — M. Galloni d'Istria, his Assistance and 
Information — Speculations as to the Best Mode of Seeing all Corsica — Decide on Hiring a Carriage 
— -The Three Students, and their Purchases — Arrangements as to Route, Baggage, &c. — Celebra- 
tion of Easter in Ajaccio —Views from the Walks near Napoleon's Grotto, their great Beauty — 
Plague of Little Boys — Miss C. and her Interest in Corsica — Morning Studies above the Cours 
Grandval— Broccio, or Cream-cheese — Gourds — The House where Napoleon I. was Born — Letters 
of Introduction. 

April 8, 1868. — It seems a pity to leave Cannes just as the most pleasant 
and beautiful season is beginning ; but if a sketching tour is to be made in 
Corsica, this is the right and perhaps the only time to choose, at least if all 
parts of the island are to be visited ; earlier, the snow would have made, the 
higher districts unavailable to the landscape painter ; later, the heat would 
prevent work being easy or possible. So I close my rooms in M. Guichard's 
house, and say good-bye for the present to the cheerful town and its quiet 
bay, with the beautiful Esterelles on the horizon. 

Off by rail to Nice, whence every week a steamer starts for Corsica, going 
alternately to Ajaccio on the west coast, and to Bastia on the east. Th:'s 
week Ajaccio is the point, and the " Insulaire " is to leave the port at 
eight P.M., a roomy and well appointed steamboat, fares thirty-one and 
twenty-one francs for first and second class places. I go from the pier at 
seven, and on reaching the boat meet with a pleasant surprise in finding my 
friend J. A. S., with Mrs. J. S. and the little Janet already on board. 

Meanwhile clouds cover the sky — so bright and clear all day — the wind 
rises before we are fairly off at 8.30, and instead of the smooth sea, full moon- 
light, and other delicacies of a night voyage fondly hoped for, the most ugly 
forebodings are heard concerning a rough passage, whereby the landscape 



painter, always a miserable sailor, begins to repent of his decision to draw all 
Corsica, and, were it possible, would fain return to land. But it is too late ; 
and the only alternative is to cultivate sulkiness and retreat instantly to bed ; 
the cabin will be at least a tolerably quiet one, for of passengers there are but 
few. Neither on deck is any living being left but two fat and perpetually 
backwards-and-forward trotting poodles. 

April 9. — The night voyage, though far from pleasant, has not been as bad 
as might have been anticipated. He is fortunate, who, after ten hours of sea 
passage can reckon up no worse memories than those of a passive condition of 
suffering — of that dislocation of mind and body, or inability to think straight- 
forward, so to speak, when the outer man is twisted, and rolled, and jerked, 
and the movements of thought seem more or less to correspond with those of 
the body. Wearily go by 

" The slow sad hours that bring us all things ill," 

and vain is the effort to enliven them as every fresh lurch of the vessel tangles 
practical or pictorial suggestions with untimely scraps of poetry, indistinct 
regrets and predictions, couplets for a new " Book of Nonsense," and all kinds 
of inconsequent imbecilities — after this sort — ■ 

Would it not have been better to have remained at Cannes, where I had 
not yet visited Theoule, the Saut de Loup, and other places ? 

Had I not said, scores of times, such and such a voyage was the last I 
would make ? 

To-morrow, when " morn broadens on the borders of the dark," shall I see 
Corsica's " snowy mountain tops fringing the (Eastern) sky ?" 

Did the sentinels of lordly Volaterra see, as Lord Macaulay says they did, 
" Sardinia's snowy mountain-tops," and not rather these same Corsican tops, 
" fringing the southern sky ?" 

Did they see any tops at all, or if any, which tops ? 

Will the daybreak ever happen ? 

Will two o'clock ever arrive ? 

Will the two poodles above stairs ever cease to run about the deck ? 

Is it not disagreeable to look forward to two or three months of travelling 
quite alone ? 

Would it not be delightful to travel, as J. A. S. is about to do, in company 
with a wife and child ? 

Does it not, as years advance, become clearer that it is very odious to 
be alone ? 

Have not many very distinguished persons, CEnone among others, arrived 
at this conclusion ? 

Did she not say, with evident displeasure — 

" And from that time to this I am alone, 
And I shall be alone until I die " ? 


Will those poodles ever cease from trotting up and down the deck ? 
Is it not unpleasant, at fifty-six years of age, to feel that it is increasingly 
probable that a man can never hope to be otherwise than alone, never, no, 
never more ? 

Did not Edgar Poe's raven distinctly say, " Nevermore ?" 
Will those poodles be quiet ? " Quoth the raven, nevermore." 
Will there be anything worth seeing in Corsica ? 

Is there any romance left in that island ? is there any sublimity or beauty 
in its scenery ? 

Have I taken too much baggage ? 
Have I not rather taken too little ? 

Am I not an idiot for coming at all ? 

Thus, and in such a groove, did the machinery of thought go on, gradually 
refusing to move otherwise than by jerky spasms, after the fashion of 

mechanical Ollendorff exercises, or verb-catechisms of familiar phrases 

Are there not Banditti ? 

Had there not been Vendetta ? 

Were there not Corsican brothers ? 

Should I not carry clothes for all sorts of weather ? 
Must THOU not have taken a dress coat ? 
Had HE not many letters of introduction ? 

Might WE not have taken extra pairs of spectacles ? 
Could YOU not have provided numerous walking boots ? 
Should THEY not have forgotten boxes of quinine pills ? 
Shall WE possess flea-powder ? 
Could YOU not procure copper money ? 
May THEY not find cream cheeses ? 

Should there not be innumerable moufflons ? 

Ought not the cabin lamps and glasses to cease jingling ? 

Might not those poodles stop worrying ? 

thus and thus, till by reason of long hours of monotonous rolling and shaking, 
a sort of comatose insensibility, miscalled sleep, takes the place of all thought, 
and so the night passes. 

At sunrise there are fine effects of light and cloud ; but, alas for my first 
impression of that grand chain of Corsican Alps about which I have heard so 
much, and which were to have been seen so long before reaching the island ! 
Nothing is visible at present beyond the leaden, unlovely waves, except a low 
line of dark gray-green coast, and above this there are glimpses from time to 
time between thick folds of cloud, disclosing for a moment mysterious 
phantom heights of far snow and rock, or here and there some vast crag 
dimly seen and less remote, imparting a sensation of being near a land of 
lofty mountains, but none of any distinctness or continuity of outline. 

R 2 


[April 9. 

As the steamer approaches the island, cape after cape is passed, and on 
one a village is seen, which the pilot tells me is Carghese, the Greek settle- 
ment, of which I had heard from M. Prosper Merimee. The coast is deeply 
indented in bays and gulfs, and so far as cloud allows of seeing inland, seems 
remarkable for its greenness. 

About ten we arrive at the pointed rocky islets called Les lies San- 
guinaires, and passing between them and the Punto della Parata, enter the 
Gulf of Ajaccio. ( l ) The islands, on one of which there is a lighthouse, are 
picturesque ; but the weather has now become cold and windy, and the gulf, 
presumed by the enthusiastic to be ever " lake-like " and placid, is anything 
but calm or beautiful ; on the contrary, its aspect is gloomy, and its inquietude 


disgusting. Thick clouds hide all the hills, and this beginning of Corsican 
travel is certainly far from propitious. 

We proceed along the north side of the gulf, and pretty near the shore. 

(*) The Gulf of Ajaccio is one of the most magnificent formed by nature ... Its sheltered and 
excellent port might become one of the first arsenals of Europe. The capital city of Corsica is, however, 
but an embryo, placed in a desert, with numerous new promenades, detached rows of Government 
buildings, and hardly any streets, a garrison, employes, and very few inhabitants. In spite of a certain 
pompous exterior, Ajaccio, which should contain a population of 40,000, does not succeed, &c.— Valeiy, 
i., p. 152. 

Ajaccio lies at the northern end of a gulf reckoned among the finest in the world. Its two coast lines 
are of unequal length ; the northern one is shorter, and runs on in a westerly direction as far as the 
Punto della Parata, a point of land opposite which are the Isole Sanguinarie ; the southern side of the 
gulf trends from N. to S. with many curves, as far as Cape Muro, sailing round which you come into the 
bay of Valinco. . . . The new town, with the citadel, was founded by the Bank of St. George 
of Genoa, in the year 1492. — Gregorovhis, p. 346. 

The Tort of Ajaccio, situated at the head of the gulf of the same name, is incontestable the greatest 

April 9.] 


Close at the water's edge is a line of 
buildings, some so small as to be not 
unlike bathing machines ; others re- 
sembling tiny dwellings, or rather 
those little places of worship, Ebene- 
zers or Houses of Sion, observable 
in many English villages ; but these 
are neither. They are tombs, small 
chapels, or sepulchral monuments, 
forming the Campo Santo, or ceme- 
tery of Ajaccio,^) but the pilot tells 
me that it is a more general usage 
in Corsica for the inhabitants to bury 
their relatives either on their own 
family property or in some conspicuous 
spot near their dwellings, thus never 
removing far from the living the 
memories of those who were with 
them in life. 

Presently we near the head of the 
gulf, where Ajaccio stands out gloomy 
and gray on a point of land that 
forms an inner and an outer harbour. 
The city does not appear promising 
in a picturesque point of view, though 
on this boisterously windy morning, 

in Corsica. It would easily shelter a whole fleet, 
and the bottom is excellent throughout. It includes 
three anchorages ; one at the side of the citadel of 
Ajaccio, the second opposite the city, the third at 
the head of the gulf, 1,500 metres from Ajaccio. 
— Grandchamps, p. 90. 

The Gulf of Ajaccio, like many others, has 
been compared to the Bay of Naples ; but, I think, 
without much reason, except for the colouring 
lent by a brilliant and transparent atmosphere to 
both sea and land. — Forester, p. 217. [I agree 
with Mr. Forester. — E. L.] 

( l ) The neighbouring heights of Ajaccio are 
covered with detached little white cupolas, standing 
picturesquely above vineyards and other verdure. 
These cupolas, which have something of an oriental 
look, and recall Mussulman cemeteries, serve as 
tombs for different families — such is the custom of 
the country— on their own land. The brightness 
of these little buildings contrasts sadly with the 
gloom of the houses of the living.— Valery, i, 
p. 181. 


when all is sombre and sunless, and when the surrounding scenery is blotted 
and half hidden by clouds, it is premature to judge ; finer weather may 
change my opinion. 

Before eleven we are anchored not far from the city ; boats come off to 
take the passengers, and I fancy that every one of these leave the " Insulaire" 
with pleasant recollections of its clean and good arrangements, and its 
careful and attentive captain and pilot, possibly, too, of the pair of funny 
little poodles continually trotting about its deck. 

On a nearer approach Ajaccio( 1 ) does not seem to me to present any 
special beauty or interest ; no charm either of colour or architecture in public 
or other buildings salutes the eye of the painter. There are lines of respect- 

( l ) Ajaccio is the prettiest town in Corsica. It has many very handsome streets and beautiful 
walks, a citadel, and a palace for the Genoese governor. The inhabitants of this town are the 
-enteelest people in the island, having had a good deal of intercourse with the French. In Ajaccio 
are the remains of a colony of Greeks settled in Corsica, &c. — Boswell, p. 25. 

The general plan of the town is very simple. One broad street leads from the sea to the barracks ; 
another nearly as wide, but much shorter, cuts the former at right angles ; besides these there are many 
subordinate streets extremely narrow and dirty. — Benson, p. 3. 

Ajaccio is situated on a tongue of land, the point of which is occupied by the castle. Next to this 
follows the town, extending also in both directions along the gulf. . . The houses are high, but 
without any fine architecture ; the gray Venetian blinds, which are preferred in Corsica instead of the 
bright green ones of Italy, are characteristic features ; they give a dull and monotonous expression to 
the houses. All the more considerable houses of the Corso stand on the right hand side (entering from 
the Bastia road), the little theatre, the prefecture, and the barracks. I was surprised by the rural 
stillness in all these streets of Ajaccio ; their names only appeal to the traveller, and tell the story 
of Napoleon — Cours and Rue Napoleon, Rue Fesch, Rue Cardinal, Place Letitia, Rue Roi de 
Rome. . . Parallel with the Cours Napoleon runs the Rue Fesch ; the former leads on to the broad 
Place du Diamant, which commands a fine view of the gulf and its southern shore ; the latter 
ends in the market-place and leads to the harbour. These, and one which runs at right angles to 
the other two, are the chief streets of Ajaccio ; small by-lanes unite them, and traverse the tongue of 
land. . . Ajaccio is a land and sea town at the same time — you live in the midst of nature. — 
Gregorovhis, p. 347. 

Ajaccio is the oldest town in Corsica. In 1420 Alphonso of Arragon was welcomed there. At that 
time it stood further towards the end of the gulf, but for reasons of health it was rebuilt in its present 
situation about 1490. In 1506 it was ineffectually besieged by pirates, and taken by the French in 1553. 
In 1794 Ajaccio was taken by Paoli, and evacuated by the English in 1796. Napoleon I. has endowed 
liis native town with benefits ; he created its fountains, constructed its quays, and finished the road from 
Ajaccio to Bastia. . . . The softness of the climate, the beauty of the gulf, the purity of the sky, 
and the majestic aspect of the mountains which surround and shelter it from the north, all indicate it 
as a haunt of those— idle or invalid— who love to frequent the cities of the south. In summer the gulf 
and land breezes temper the heat, and sea-bathing would be at Ajaccio as salubrious as at Cette or 
Marseilles. During the night the atmosphere is of an incomparable clearness, and the air from the 
mountains brings with it the perfumes of the " maquis." In one word, Ajaccio unites all that can attract 
and retain strangers ; all that is required is to embellish it, &c. . . Fashion, good hotels, and doctors 
in repute, would do the rest. . . . It is difficult to meet elsewhere with more picturesque and varied 
scenery : the highest mountains of Corsica stand like an amphitheatre around the Gulf of Ajaccio, the 
loftiest and farthest peaks cutting the sky in sharp and defined lines ; the landscape, severe and grand, 
is enlivened by the boats of the gulf and the smoke of the brushwood or maquis from fires lighted by 
shepherds on the hills. Sepulchral chapels relieve the dark verdure of the myrtle and oliverand the 
snowy summits of the d'Oro and Rotondo rising afar off complete this magnificent picture.— 
GnndckampSf p. 25. 

The commercial future of Ajaccio depends on the utilisation of the valleys of the Gravona and the 
l'runelli ; but, separated as this city is by the highest mountains from the eastern side of the island, its 
influence on Corsica will always be limited. The great size of the gulf makes it difficult to defend, 


able-looking, lofty, and bulky houses — they may be likened to great ware- 
houses, or even to highly magnified dominoes — with regular rows of windows 
singularly wanting in embellishment and variety ; but there is no wealth of 
tall campanile or graceful spire, no endless arches or perforations or inde- 
scribable unevennesses, no balconies, no galleries, as in most parts of Italy, in 
the dull lines of buildings here ; no fragmentary hangings, no stripes, no 
prismatic gatherings of inconceivable objects, far less any gorgeous hues, as in 
eastern worlds. Perhaps the place I thought of at first as being likest to 
Ajaccio was Rapallo, on the Riviera di Levante, a town, if I remember 
rightly, one of the least gay or ornamented on that beautiful coast. 

Still more striking is the absence of colour, and of any peculiarity of 
costume in the dress of both sexes^ 1 ) Almost all are in black, or very dark 
brown, and, to a new comer who has travelled in the East and South, 
everything has a dull and commonplace, not to say a mournful, air. The 
boatmen who convey me, my man, and luggage, to the shore, are quiet 
and solemn ; and, on reaching the landing-place — ah, viva ! once more the 
solid ground ! — the sober propriety of demeanour in the groups standing 
round is remarkable ; the clamour and liveliness of an Italian port, the 
wildness and splendour of an Eastern quay are alike wanting ; the coun- 
tenances of both men and women are grave, and the former have an inactive 
and lazy manner; so that, whether or not I am prejudiced by the damp 
and overcast gloom of the day, my first impressions of the Gulf of Ajaccio 
and of the capital of Corsica are not of a lively character. Among the notes 
I have had forwarded to me by the last post from friends in England who 
knew of my coming to this island, are some written by a naturalist, who 
mentions, among other creatures peculiar to Corsica, the Helix tristis ; and, 
in my present mood, I feel that the melancholy snail was right when he chose 
a sympathetic dwelling. 

No trouble whatever is given at the Custom House ; the officials are 
civil and obliging. I walk on up a broad street, leading to an open place 
or square — where, or near which, I am told, the best hotels are to be found 
— in search of a lodging ; to the right a street stretches along the quay, to 
the left appears to stand the more populous part of the city. On the way 

&c. The future development and prosperity of Ajaccio depend on the drainage and cultivation of the 
plains of Campo dell'Oro, and on the impetus given to the neighbourhood by the presence of rich or 
invalid visitors. — Grandchamps, p. 27. 

The cathedral, finished about 1585, in the form of a Greek cross, with a majestic cupola, recalls the 
good Italian architecture of that period. They show in it the font of white Luni marble where Napoleon 
was baptised the 21st of July, 1771, nearly two years after his birth, a custom not uncommon in Corsica. 
— Valery, i., p. 156. 

(*) In the dress of the men of Corsica, the pointed velvet bonnet has almost entirely disappeared, and 
has given place to the woollen cap, to which the round cap of cloth is fast succeeding. The dress of the 
women is no longer what it was, the Corsican cloth, velvet, &c, have given way to woollens of 
finer texture or muslins, and it is rarely only that in the present day women are met with dressed in their 
original and picturesque costume. — Galletti, p. 54. 


I pass a large fountain, with lions ; how gloomily dressed are the women 
filling their water-jars ! but they carry them gracefully, and are well made— 
their^ features regular, and rather of a Greek type, except that the nose is 
longer.^) At the top of the street (the Rue Napoleon) is the Place du Diamant 
(the large open space above alluded to), three-sided ; the fourth, open to the 
sea, containing the equestrian statue of Napoleon and those of his four 
brothers. And now, for the weather shows signs of clearing, the opposite or 
southern side of the gulf is for the first time visible. Out of this Grande Place 
du Diamant the Cours Napoleon opens. In it are barracks, the Prefecture, the 
theatre, the post, &c, and the Hotel de TEurope ; and at one of its corners 
stands the Hotel de France, to which I go, but only to find that it contains no 
vacant rooms. My next trial was at the Hotel de Londres, which stands in a 
small street at the north-west corner of the Place du Diamant, and is by no 
means so well situated as the last I had entered. Each of these inns occupies 
a single flat in a large square building. Here, although the entrance and 
staircase are very objectionable, being extremely dirty, and encumbered by 
small children who cling parasitically to the steps and balustrades, and 
though it is at once evident that the arrangements of the floor used as 
the hotel leave much to be desired, I find one very clean room looking to 
the front for myself, and one on the other side of the establishment for my 
servant. These are the only two unlet ; my own is far too near the kitchen 
to be agreeable — abundant noises, odours, and flies may be expected — yet, 
for one may go farther and fare worse, I order my luggage to be brought 
up-stairs, and settle myself for a sojourn of some days, the more readily that 
my first impressions of the owners of the inn are prepossessing. Valery's 
volume is the only book I have with me as a guide to Corsica, and from 
that I gather that Ajaccio will be my best point as head-quarters while I 
remain in the island. 

1 P.M.— My host, M. Ottavi, has produced an excellent breakfast— fresh 
whitings, omelette, the famous broccio or cream cheese of Corsica, &c. ; 
and it must be allowed that the assiduity of the landlord and his wife go 
far to atone for the shortcomings of their " salles a manger "— as various 
many-tabled roomlets or boxes are with dignity named. Other apartments 
there are, and of a larger size, but these are used by officers of the garrison, 
and other regular pensioners of the restaurant. ( 2 ) Since breakfast, I have 

(') Occasionally one meets with handsome females, but they cannot generally be called so. They 
have, however, eyes of singular brightness, and long glossy hair.— Benson, p. 36. 

(-) It may he stated here that I had no reason to repent my decision, and that I cannot speak in too 
high terms of the I IAtel de Londres, or of its proprietors, M. and Mdme. Ottavi. Their constant atten- 
tKM to the wants of tlun- inmates as far as the limited nature of their hotel allowed, the extreme cleanli- 
ness of tl H .,r ro.,ms, the good qualities of their cookery, their reasonable charges, and their untiring 
Civility and cheenness, it is a pleasure to remember. Nor should the first-rate coffee of Madame be for- 
gotten (the ( Htavi had long kept an hotel at Algiers), nor the industry and good humour of Boniface, the 

April 9.] 



been out to the Prefecture ; but M. Gery, the Prefet, to whom M. Merimee 
has kindly procured me two introductory letters, is in France ; so I leave 
these at the office of the Secretary-general, M. Galloni. The Prefecture, 
which stands back from the Cours Napoleon, in a garden, is the handsomest 
public building I have seen in Ajaccio. The backs of the houses here have 
many picturesque accompaniments denied to their bald staring fronts ; from 
my window in the hotel, as I look at the back or north side of the houses 
fronting the sea on the Place du Diamant, there are clusters of wooden 
balconies, little flights of glittering pigeons, and pigeon - houses to suit, 
mysterious zig-zag lines of jars up and down the walls, unaccountably linked 
together like the joints of some mighty serpent, and various other small 
incidents of interest. On the whole, however, I feel happy that there is little 
or nothing for me to do in the way of street-scenery drawing at Ajaccio. 


The day becomes finer ; crossing the spacious place by the equestrian 
statue of the first Emperor Napoleon, I go down to the sea by a broad car- 
riage road, which, at its outset, is sheltered by a pleasant avenue of plane 
trees, and afterwards leads on to the Capella de' Greci, and to the public 

cemetery which I had remarked in steaming up the gulf. I wander on as is 

my way in coming to new places — in order that by seeing a little on all sides, 
the best sites for making characteristic drawings may be ascertained ; along 
this shore there are many beautiful bits, but chiefly about the small mortuary 
chapels, where cypress-trees and various shrubs flourish, and in the frequent 
combination of granite rocks with the sea and opposite gulf shore. Very few 
people seem about, though the city is so close by ; the cut of the peasant- 
women's dress is much like that of the Ionians, the skirt full, with many small 
plaits or folds, the boddice and short jacket close-fitting — a graceful costume, 
but in nearly all cases of a dark hue, brown or purple, more usually black. 
The elder women- many of whose faces recall the portraits of Madame Mere — 
mostly wear a black handkerchief tied closely over the head ; but the younger, 


who are not so frequently pretty as they are particularly graceful, wear two 
handkerchiefs, the one tied round the forehead and fastened behind the head 
(and of this kerchief only a portion of the front is seen), the other over the 
top of the head, fastened below the chin and falling on the back of the neck 
in a point like the head-dress represented in old Italian pictures. As for the 
men, they have a look as of porters or tradesmen out of work, carrying their 
hands in their pockets with what seems an idle and disconsolate air, and are 
in no wise picturesque or remarkable. 

Leaving the shore drive — for there is a broad and good road all along the 
sea-side for some miles — I ascend by a short cut to the Cours Grandval, a noble 
promenade leading from the Place du Diamant, opposite to the Rue Napoleon, 
of which in fact it may be called a continuation, since from its termination 
you may see the harbour and the quay at the other extremity, to the hills 
which shelter Ajaccio on its west side. This Cours Grandval is really fine ; 
a wide carriage road with a footpath on each side, and in its position, high 
above the sea, most beautiful ; and now that the clouds are lifting, disclosing 
a vast semicircle of lofty mountains at the head of the gulf, besides a pro- 
longed line of lower heights on its southern side, I begin to foresee that my 
opinions concerning Corsican scenery have yet to be formed — all the more 
that as I walk on I find a magnificent luxuriance of vegetation filling up, not 
only every portion of the gardens and of parts of the uncultivated space on 
each side of the Cours Grandval, but of the hills beyond, where a profusion 
of olive growth waves low down, and a rich carpeting of underwood or 
shrubben' clothes their sides higher up. Close to this beautiful, but appa- 
rently little-frequented promenade, stand the four houses lately built, known 
as " Les Cottages " (and calling at one of these, Dr. Ribton's, I learn that 
my friends the J. S/s are at the Hotel de l'Europe). Nearly opposite these 
four dwellings stands the fine house of M. Conti, Receveur-general ; and beyond 
them a large convent school seems at present nearly the only other building 
on the Cours Grandval, except a solitary house at its termination, where, so 
to speak, the city ends and the country begins. 

Going down again to the shore, I wander on to the Capella de' Greci^ 1 ) 
Now that the features of this gulf scenery are beginning to be discernible, 
though even yet the summits of all the higher mountains are cloud-covered, 
a grand and lofty serenity seems its character. Somehow, a kind of lonely 

(') From the pretty church Del Carmine, called the Greek church, there is a superb view of the 
Gulf, the lies Sanguinaires, and the mountains, which stretch as far as Cape Muro. The church has its 
name because in its neighbourhood were buried many Greeks who fought in a Genoese army defeated 
by the Corsicans. It was built at the commencement of the last century by Paul Emile Pozzo di Borgo. 
— Valery, L, p. 168. 

Charming is the walk on the northern side of the gulf, along the strand There are 

many small chapels scattered about, of manifold shapes, round, quadrangular, domed, in the form of a 
sarcophagus, in that of a temple, surrounded by white walls, and among cypresses and weeping willows. 
There the dead have their country seats ; they are family vaults, their position on the coast in full view 


sadness forms part of the landscape, and it is difficult to realise the fact that 
one is in the near neighbourhood of a city. The vegetation is surprisingly 
beautiful and vigorous, especially that of the cactus, broom, cistus, myrtle, 
asphodel, and lentisk; the almond-tree in full flower, and the fig-tree in 
leaf, showing how much warmer is the climate here than at Cannes or Nice, 
where as yet not a leaf of these trees is out. 

But — I speculate professionally — what can I make of Ajaccio itself as a 
drawing ? What though some of the very best views of the city are to be 
found along this walk by the shore and towards the end of the Cours 
Grandval, how are its blocks of houses seven stories high, square as ware- 
houses, white evenly spotted with black, to be wrought into material for the 
picturesque ? Possibly, at sunrise, when the light will be behind the buildings 
and all their poverty of good detail hidden, its general form may then be 
utilised as a single dark mass. 

Returning to the town and through the Place du Diamant, I walk along 
the Cours Napoleon, which runs eastward and at right angles to the Cours 
Grandval and the Rue Napoleon ; from it, numerous narrow lanes descend to 
the inner or east harbour, and to the Rue Fesch. But although perhaps there 
is more appearance of life in this broad street than in any other part of the 
city, I find little to admire in its uniform lines of tall houses, and am not sorry 
to come to the end of it, opposite what needs must be, when the mountains 
are unveiled — for all are now once more invisible — very grand views of the 
Gulf-head and the surrounding shores. 

But how rural — now that I have explored most parts of Ajaccio — does 
this city seem ! How little activity and movement in its streets ! How 
abounding with children, and how destitute of men ! How scantily furnished 
is the sea with craft ! How lazy seem a great portion of its inhabitants ! The 
brisk little French soldiers alone redeem the dulness of the town scenes, their 
bright red trousers almost the only gleam of colour in a world of black and 
brown ; their lively walk and discourse nearly the only signs of gaiety. City, 
quotha ! might it not, O sympathetic Helix tristis, rather be called a village ? 

Although my friends were out when I called at the Hotel de l'Europe, 
the landlady begged me to see all the rooms in her inn, consisting, like the 
other hotels here, of one large flat containing various apartments. The 
situation of the Hotel de l'Europe certainly has advantages which the de 
Londres cannot boast of; but for all that, I do not regret having selected 
to live in the latter. 

At 6.30, having prowled and wandered till too tired to search any longer 

of the beautiful gulf among the green bushes, and their elegant form, produce a very cheerful and 
foreign picture. The Corsican is not fond of being buried in the public churchyard ; agreeably to the 
ways of the ancient patriarchs, he desires to be interred in his own land, among his own dear ones. 
From this cause the whole island is dotted over with little mausoleums, which often enjoy the most 
charming situations, and enhance the picturesqueness of the landscape. — Gregorovhts, p. 404. 



[April 10. 

for the picturesque, I return to Ottavi's, to rest, write, and think what can 
be extracted from Ajaccio as food for pencil and paint. The Gulf mountain 
lines seem unmanageable from their great length, and difficult to represent 
except by portions ; but perhaps a clear sky may show things differently 
to-morrow : " Bakalum " (we shall see), as the Turk says ; and being here for a 
purpose, all that is possible in topographic illustration must be tried. 

By the crowding of officers and others here, and by the narrowness of the 
allotted space, I am reminded of the inn at Cattaro in Dalmatia, and of its 

^/ v ))/ // 

napoleon's grotto. 

multitudinous frequenters and noises. The cook here, however, is a loftier 
artist than he at the foot of the Montenegrin mountain ; so the discomfort has 
its compensations. After the dry air of Cannes and Nice, how warm and 
damp does this feel ! 

April io, 5 A.M. — It is blowing a hurricane, and pouring with rain. A 
pleasant beginning for study in Corsica, O painter ! 

But at seven the rain ceases, and gleams of sunshine gladden the gulf. I 
walk out, up to the end of the Boulevard or Cours Grandval, to make if 
possible a commencement of work, but find the wind far too high for any 
drawing. The solitary house, the last on the left hand on the road, now 
uninhabited, belonged, they tell me, to Cardinal Fesch, and here at one period 


the Buonaparte family resided during summer, the great detached group of 
granite rocks a little farther on, known now by the name of " Napoleon's 
Grotto," being, I suppose, at that time within the bounds of the garden.^) At 
present these form, one may say, the terminus of the Cours Grandval, and are 
very picturesque, their gray sides shaded by light olive trees, and surrounded 
by a wild growth of cactus and all sorts of verdure. At this hour the grotto, 
and all the neighbourhood of the old Buonaparte house, are gay with French 
soldiery, and resounding with bugles and drums, this being the practising 
ground for those art-students. 

From all about this spot are seen some of the best views of Ajaccio, and 
of the central chain of mountains, for the ground rises from the city to the end 
of the Cours Grandval, and commands most extensive prospects eastward ; 
the city, wholly in shadow, looks its best in early morning, as I guessed 
it would. Beyond the grotto, winding gravel paths lead downward to a most 
charming little dell ; you descend through a wilderness of heath, cistus, broom, 
and asphodel, till you come to gardens of fig and olive, when, passing one or 
two tiny cottages, you find yourself on the farther side of the little valley, 
whence other pleasant paths cross and border the hill sides down to the 
Campo Santo on the sea-shore carriage-road. Everywhere throughout these 
rambles there is a sensation of freedom — rarely do you see a creature — 
nothing interrupts the quiet. A flock of sheep and a shepherd are the only 
living things I have seen since I left the Cours Grandval ; the sheep are the 
first I have met with in Corsica, diminutive little beasts, all jetty black ; black, 
too, is the dress of their guardian. 

On by the sea to the Campo Santo ; the tombs which had appeared like 
dwellings from the steamer are very numerous and of every kind, from the 
large plain or ornamented chapel to the simple headstone or cross. Generally 
they exhibit good taste, often standing in a small detached garden, walled or 
railed round, and planted with shrubs and flowers. Many of these plots of 
ground are evidently kept with care. Beyond them a large space is marked 

(*) At about a mile from Ajaccio one meets with two stone pillars, the remains of a doorway lead- 
ing up to a dilapidated country-house, formerly the property of Cardinal Fesch. . . This house was 
generally the summer residence of Madame Buonaparte and her family. Surrounded almost by the wild 
olive, the cactus, the clematis, and almond, is a very singular and isolated granite rock, called Napoleon's 
Grotto. . . The remains of a summer-house beneath the rock are still visible ; the entrance to it is 
nearly closed by a very luxuriant fig-tree. It was once Napoleon's favourite retreat, in which he fol- 
lowed his studies during the vacation allowed by the college of Brienne. — Benson, p. 9. 

I went to see the Casone, a large garden covered with olive trees and Indian figs, and in it is a grotto 
which enjoys some celebrity. Formed by great rocks, opposite the sea, and not unpicturesque, it has 
been held as the spot where Napoleon used to meditate as an infant, and some enthusiastic travellers 
have visited it as such. I am sorry to destroy their illusions, but the Casone, an old villa of the Jesuits, 
which after their suppression passed to the State, was never possessed by the Buonaparte family except as 
national property. — Valcry, i., p. 168. 

Near Ajaccio, in the old Jardin Casone, belonging to the Buonaparte family, is the grotto formed of 
great blocks of granite stone, where Napoleon I., when a child, often passed whole days studying his 
lessons. — Galletti, p. 150. 


out for a public cemetery, the practice of separate sepulchres in the vicinity of 
cities being, I am told, now prohibited, or about to be so in a short time. 
Passing these homes of the dead, the road runs on towards the ties San- 
guinaires, here in full view, but wind and cloud forbid all drawing to-day, so, 
giving up further exploring, I return ; only two or three peasants in rude carts, 
and some half a score on foot, all dressed in triste black, passing me on my way 
back to the city, so quiet and little frequented are these environs of Ajaccio. 

At the Hotel de l'Europe I find my friends the J. S.'s preparing to migrate 
to-day to Dr. Ribton's. The longer I stay in Ajaccio the more I am 
surprised at the crowds of children, not so much in its streets as in the 
passages and doorways and on the stairs of the houses. These they lay 
claim to as their own particular property, and seem to think it odd if you 
ask them to allow you to pass ; nevertheless, it should be added that these 
little urchins are invariably civil and good-humoured. Another surprise to 
me is that everybody talks an Italian which is quite easy to understand, 
especially by one used to the dialects of Southern Italy — a facility of com- 
munication I was not prepared for, as I had heard the Corsican dialect 
described as a mere jargon, whereas it is not at all so. 

ii A.M. — To breakfast in one of the small salle a manger boxes. 
M. Ottavi is Corse, but has passed most of his life in Algiers; Madame is 
of Strasbourg, but a Pole in origin : both spare no pains to please, and are 
profuse of good food and wine — the latter a strong red sort, and not unlike 
a Burgundy in flavour. An elderly Corsican breakfasts in the same " salle," 
who asks what part of the island I intend to see ; having, as yet, no fixed 
plan, I mention the Greek colony of Carghese as one of the places I had 
some idea of visiting first. " But," says my acquaintance, " you would find 
that place triste!" (To myself I added, Helix tristis ! If the capital is 
triste, why not the remote villages ?) One of the Carghese Greeks, it seems, 
has married this gentleman's daughter, and he obligingly offers me an 
introduction to him. " You will, however," he adds, " find no costumes in 
the present day at Carghese ; the people there, who originally came from 
Maina, in the Morea, have for a long time past intermarried with Corsicans, 
and, although among themselves they keep up their own language, they 
can hardly, except in that one particular, be any longer called Greek." This 
is disappointing intelligence ; for I have been looking forward to brilliant 
Greek costumes as a set-off to the paucity of colour here. I decline the 
friendly offer of this gentleman — a M. Martinenghi — to inscribe my name 
in the cercle, or club ; for, should the weather become clear, there will be 
little enough time for drawing before June, none at all extra for "dawdling" 
or " society" — terms at certain times nearly equivalent^ 1 ) 

( l ) [I have been sorry since my return from Corsica, that my short stay there did not admit of seeing 
more of Corsican society ; what little I had the advantage of knowing was pleasant, hearty, and full of 


Noon. — The air is as damp and chill as it used to be at Mountain 
Civitella di Subiaco after a two days' rain ; but I would it were as certain 
as it was wont to be there, that weeks of clear sunshine would follow this 
" soft weather " — there, where rain was so regularly succeeded by a bursting 
forth of light over that wild space of landscape from Olevano to Segni, 
one of the most beautiful scenes I have ever known. How would it be 
to pass whole months here, as of old one did in those Italian hills ? Would 
isolation and undisturbed study atone now, as then, for the want of society 
and much else ? Meanwhile, I write out all M. Prosper Merimee's and 
Mr. Hawker's notes for use, till, the rain holding up, I try to see the 
Secretary-general, but he is indisposto, and in bed. So I come back and 
give myself up to the fixed conviction that this is truly the land of the Helix 
tristis, the melancholy snail. 

Later, a most violent wind blows ; yet who can stay for ever indoors ? 
So I set out eastward, to explore some new ground, with G., cloaks, and 
a folio, in case there should be an opportunity of pencilling anything beyond 
the blackness of attire of men, women, and children, and the multitudinous 
congregating of the latter at doors and on stairs. All about the eastern or 
inner harbour many interesting drawings might be made, weather per- 
mitting ; but the boats partake of the unpicturesqueness of all things 
artificial in Corsica. Oh, for a few of the beautiful rainbow-tinted boats 
of Malta or Gozo ! But here, like the goats and the sheep, and the dress 
of the human beings, the boats, too, are all black ! (Mems., zoological and 
others : — Observe 1st. Goat tied to tail of a horse ; goat greatly disquieted 
by being obliged to gallop. 2ndly. Swallows in small parties, flitting about, 
battling with the fierce wind, or sitting puffily-ruffled upon the telegraph 
wires, saying, "We have come to Corsica too soon." 3rdly. Many of the 
peasant women hereabouts wear low-crowned straw hats, like those in use 
at Antibes, but not so flat.) 

High up, on one of the many hills — for the Gulf of Ajaccio is entirely 
backed by heights — is a lofty monument, and a wayside man informs one 
that it is the tomb of Count Andrea Pozzo di Borgo,( l ) who was a native 

intelligence and good taste ; and by the warm welcome I received at the only two gentlemen's houses 
where I stayed, I am convinced that the old hospitable virtues of the island are unaltered. — E. L.] 

0) The house of the ancient family of M. Pozzo di Borgo is solid and well situated ; they show 
the one- windowed room where he was born. — Valery, i., p. 177. 

Pozzo di Borgo died in Paris, February 15, \%>qi. — Gregorovins. 

Two grenadiers deserted from a French regiment, auxiliaries of the Genoese, and fled to Alata, living 
in the Macchie, but secretly sustained by a goatherd. M. de Mozieres, colonel of the regiment, having 
obtained a clue to their hiding-place, went to the shepherd's house, and interrogated his son Giuseppe 
on the subject, the young man finally accepting four louis d'ors as a bribe to betray the retreat of the 
deserters, which he did by pointing with his finger to certain rocks behind which they lay. The father 
of the young man, returning to his cabin, learned the treason, and having prepared his son for death 
shot him with his own hand. — Gregorovius, p. 397. 

[One of M. Prosper Merimee's beautiful tales is founded on this incident.— E. L.] 


of Alata, a village adjoining. Turning off from the main or Bastia road, 
one less wide leads to the left, and I follow it, as somewhat more sheltered ; 
it goes, they tell me, to two large convict establishments or penitenciers, called 
Castelluccio, and beyond that to Milelli, another old Buonaparte country 
house ; also to the chapel and rocks of St. Antoine, and to one or two 
more distant villages. And if there is no possibility of work, owing to 
the wind, at least this walk is interesting, as showing much beautiful land- 
scape all around — in depths of olive-grown valleys, in cultivation near at 
hand, and in glimpses of the eastern mountains, where, amid gloomy cloud, 
many grand and transient effects gleam out. The peasants, or, possibly 
gentry (for all who pass me are dressed alike), are mostly riding the wiry 
little ponies for which the island is noted. Some of these persons wear 
hood-cloaks, like those used in Crete ; but generally they wear black cloth 
caps, black beards, and black velveteen dresses. Far down in the leafy 
valleys, and high up on the hill-sides, everywhere peer forth from the olive 
or ilex groves solitary tombs, many of them domed, and very much like 
Mahometan welys ; others are quaint little temple-like structures, or plain 
chapels. (See notes pp. 5 and 10.) But it becomes too tiresome to fight on 
against this furious wind, so by 5 P.M. I am again back at the city, and 
sit awhile with the S's — all three of us indulging in disrespectful remarks 
on the climate of Ajaccio in April, 1868, and half wishing we had never 
visited the native land of Helix tristis. 

Last of all I went to the Piazza Letitia, one side of which is formed by 
what was the family dwelling of the Buonapartes when Napoleon I. was 
born, in 1769. But this, the very greatest lion of Ajaccio, it is too late 
to see this evening ; yet one cannot contemplate even the outside of the 
house without feelings of singular interest. Nor, till now, did I know that 
the family occupied a palazzo of such size and of so much appearance of 
well-to-do condition. 

April 11, 5 A.M. — All is cloud and mist, and small seems the chance as 
yet of settled fine weather, though rain has fallen all night. But it clears 
later, as it did yesterday, and allows me a couple of hours for drawing at the end 
of the Cours Grandval, and at the Grotto of Napoleon, where the lichen-grown 
granite boulders are a picture, and the growth of vegetation on all sides 
charming. My work, however, is cut short by a sharp storm of hail, and for 
nearly ten minutes a fall of sleety snow makes the grotto a welcome refuge. 
(As usual, they tell me " such weather in April was never before known in 
Ajaccio!" but was not the same said to me, April 12, 1864, concerning the 
weather in Crete ?) 

At 9, to the Prefecture, where I find M. Galloni d'Istria, the Secretary- 
general. This gentleman, whose time during the absence of M. le Prefet is 


so fully occupied that I hardly expected him to be able to devote much atten- 
tion to the casual bearer of introductory letters, receives me with the greatest 
friendliness ; and the interest he takes in my desire to see Corsica thoroughly, 
and to portray its scenery, is very encouraging ; for the advice of one so inti- 
mately acquainted with every part of the island is invaluable. He suggests 
I should go to Sartene, Bonifacio, and Porto Vecchio (whence I may visit 
the forests of Spedale named to me by M. Merimee), then cross the mountains 
from Solenzaro, and return again to Sartene by the pass and forest of Bavella. 
By this route, he tells me, I shall traverse some of the finest inland Corsican 
scenery, as well as visit the most interesting towns in the southern part of the 
island, and that the whole of the tour can be made in a carriage, provided 
it be a light one ; for the broad Route Imperiale, or diligence road, does 
not cross the mountains at Bavella; the last part of the journey, moreover, 
is not so certain to be effected if any heavy fall of snow should occur in the 
high forest passes. Nor did the active help of M. Galloni d'Istria cease here. 
He gave me a first-rate map of the island, and promises letters of introduction 
to persons residing in the places through which I must go while making the 
first tour he has thus indicated, and on my return to Ajaccio, he will 
provide letters to all other parts of the island I may wish to visit. It does 
not always happen that an artist's topographical tour should be so completely 
entered into and so warmly assisted by an official personage ; and I leave 
M. Galloni d'Istria, feeling not only much obliged to himself, but also to 
M Prosper Merimee for having so kindly procured letters for me to M. le Prefet. 

Returning to the hotel, after a visit to the J. S.'s, the next step is to decide 
finally in what mode of travelling I can best manage to make characteristic 
drawings of so large an island as Corsica during the short time at my disposal. 
Four plans present themselves, and it becomes urgent that I should fix on 
one of these, and carry it into execution. 

First — To go to the principal towns by Diligence — certainly a cheaper plan 
than any other. But as these public vehicles go by night as well as by day, the 
object of my visit — to study scenery— would be but half gained, nor, indeed, so 
much as half, for a diligence could not be stopped for the sake of drawing a 
landscape, though never so beautiful ; and many disadvantages, to wit, jolting, 
crowding, and dirt, would assuredly more or less interfere with work after 
some twenty-four hours' journey. Moreover, from Porto Vecchio or Solenzaro 
no Diligence roads cross the island, and once arrived at the first-named of 
those places, further progress would be stopped, as there are no vehicles for 
hire at all on the east side of the island, excepting at Bastia. Plan No. I 
is therefore abandoned. 

Secondly — To hire horses and ride ; doubtless, great freedom of action 
is ensured by such an arrangement. Yet against it there are numerous 
personal objections not to be overruled. So exit plan No. 2. 



Thirdly — Luggage might be sent on by Diligence, and I might walk, 
my servant carrying folios and food for the day, a plan I have constantly 
worked out in Greece, Italy, Crete, &c. But in Corsica this system could 
hardly be effected, for, from what I can learn, the towns are sometimes farther 
apart than even the longest day's walk could manage, and with no halting 
place between them ; very often too much time would thus be wasted in 
such a plan, because great portions of the island would probably not present 
any interest for the pencil. To go on foot through some of the forest scenery 
may be necessary ; but a quicker process for seeing and drawing the greater 


part of Corsica in ten weeks must be adopted. 

Fourthly — There remains this plan, on which, after looking at the matter 
in all its bearings, I finally decide — namely, to hire a two-horse carriage 
for the whole time of my stay, paying for it so much daily, and using it for 
long or for short journeys, either as there may be much or little to draw, 
or according to the distance of halting places. In this way I should be 
free to make drawings in the neighbourhood of the principal towns, or to 
make excursions from them to various points ; and if any scene on the high 
road could not easily be returned to, owing to too great distance, I might 
halt my vehicle while I worked, or perhaps oftener send it on and walk ; 
on the other hand, I could drive as quickly as possible through districts in 
which there is little of the picturesque. This plan of travelling, though 
apparently the most expensive, will economise time, and in the end, I believe, 
will prove the cheapest ; for my object in coming to Corsica being that of 
carrying away the greatest possible number of records of its scenery, the 
saving some outlay will not compensate for a meagre portfolio, and I might 
ultimately discover the least costly process to be also the least satisfactory. 
In support of which hypothesis a fable taught me long years ago by one 
dead and gone recurs to my memory. 

Once upon a time three poor students, all very near-sighted, and each 
possessing a single pair of horn-rimmed spectacles, set out to walk to a 
remote university, for the purpose of competing for a professorship. 

On the way, while sleeping by the road-side, a thief stole their three pairs 
of horn-rimmed spectacles. 

Waking, their distress was great : they stumbled, they fell, they lost their 
way ; and night was at hand, when they met a pedlar. 

" Have you any spectacles ?" said the three miserable students. 

" Yes," said the pedlar, " exactly three pairs ; but they are set in gold, and 
with magnificent workmanship; in fact, they were made for the king, and 
they cost so much " 

" Such a sum," said the students, " is absurd ; it is nearly as much as we 

" I cannot," the pedlar replied, " take less ; but here is an ivory-handled 


frying-pan which I can let you have for a trifling sum, and I strongly 
recommend you to buy it because it is such an astonishing bargain, and you 
may never again chance to meet with a similarly joyful opportunity." 

Said the eldest of the three students, " I will grope my way on as I 
can. It is ridiculous to buy a pair of this man's spectacles at such a price." 

" And I," said the second, " am determined to purchase the ivory-handled 
frying-pan ; it costs little, and will be very useful, and I may never again have 
such an extraordinary bargain." 

But the youngest of the three, undisturbed by the laughter of the two 
others, bought the gold-rimmed sumptuous spectacles, and was soon out 
of sight. 

Thereon, No, 1 set off slowly, but, falling into a ditch by reason of his 
blindness, broke his leg, and was carried back, by a charitable passer-by in 
a cart, to his native town. 

No. 2 wandered on, but lost his way inextricably, and, after much 
suffering, was obliged to sell his ivory-handled frying-pan at a great loss, 
to enable him to return home. 

No. 3 reached the University, gained the prize, and was made Professor 
of Grumphiology, with a house and fixed salary, and lived happily ever after. 

Moral. — To pay much for what is most useful, is wiser than to pay little 
for what is not so. 

Two other matters have to be settled before starting " to see all Corsica." 
First, the direction in which to travel, and the time at which to undertake 
certain tours ; and, secondly, the division of baggage, with regard to daily 
and nightly comfort. The first question has been already partly settled 
by M. Galloni d'Istria's advice, for it is doubtless best to commence with 
the southern coasts of the island, as in all probability the heat will be 
soonest felt there; and thence, if possible, to see all that is necessary of 
the eastern plains, as, at the end of May, they begin to be malarious and 
unwholesome, that is, for a working painter ; since it is one thing to travel 
rapidly through feverish air, and quite another to sit drawing in it for 
several hours, or to halt in it when heated, &c. Tours to the higher forests, 
and the centre of the island, may be postponed till all risk of snow and 
rain are passed. 

Next as to baggage. Not knowing in the least what sort of accommo- 
dation is to be met with, I shall carry a good supply. Dividing my "roba," 
and leaving part of it with my host, M. Ottavi, I shall take lots of drawing 
material, and clothing for hot and cold weather, besides my small folding 
bed ; so that, with my servant's help, I may at least be as comfortable as 
in Albanian khans, Cretan cottages, or Syrian sheds. For it is certain that 
at fifty-six " roughing it " is not so easy as at thirty or forty, and if good 
rest at night is not to be procured, the journey may as well be given up, for 

C 2 


there would be an end of work. Last of all, a fitting carriage and driver are 
to be found, and price, &c, agreed on. 

Here is a visit from M. Martinenghi ; he kindly offers to show me some 
pictures in his possession, some by Salvator Rosa, &c, and appears con- 
founded at the little enthusiasm I express on the subject, and at my declining 
the proposal. In this hotel there resides an English lady — a Miss C— who 
has not only been here for some months, but has visited many parts of the 
island ; and before I set off I shall venture on a visit to her, to get some hints 
about my journey. 

Noon. — What is going to happen ?— a remarkable clattering noise fills 
the air. I look out of window, and behold a torrent of children — a hundred, 
at least — all carrying bits of wood, which they knock, and bump, and rattle 
against all the railings, doorsteps, and walls, as their procession passes on. 
Now, in most southern places where Christians are desirous of celebrating 
Easter by triumphant noises, pistols and crackers are fired off at the proper 
time ; every one who has been in Rome at that season is aware of the uproar 
made on the Saturday preceding Easter Day ; and in the Maltese villages, 
at Alexandria, and other eastern cities, the hullabaloo is fearful. But here, in 
Corsica, no firearms of any sort are at present allowed to be in the hands of the 
people, and so the popular piety finds vent in this singular outburst of rattling 
pieces of wood, which, I am told, has a dim reference to Judas Iscariot, the 
thumps on the rails and stones being typical of what the faithful consider that 
person's bones, were he living, should receive. ( l ) 

At I P.M. I go out to the broad Cours Grandval, and pass most of the 
afternoon in making drawings near the Grotto of Napoleon. For the day 
is now finer, the clouds higher, and the mountains at intervals nearly 
clear. The view over Ajaccio from this point is indeed fine ; the noble range 
of snowy heights beyond the head of the gulf rise magnificently above the 
city, and the ugliness of its detail is lost in the midst of so large and glorious 
a picture, of which it forms so small a part. The colour of this landscape, 
too, is very beautiful ; the deep -green clustering foliage in the middle 
distance, and the gray olives, the purple nearer the hills, and the dazzling white 
snow-line more remote, the calm blue of the sea (to-day really lake-like), and 
the exquisite variety of vegetation in the foreground, combine to make one of 
the most delightful of scenes — one, however, by no means easy to convey a 
just idea of on paper. {See Plate I.) 

I feel that I am beginning to be fascinated by Corsica, and to discover 
that it is far fuller of landscape beauty than I had thought ; those long vistas 

(*) I remember how, being in Ajaccio on Good Friday, all the town resounded at noon with the 
discharge of guns and pistols from every window and every shop, in order to celebrate the glory of the 
Resurrection with greater distinction. One would have thought the town besieged and being taken by 
assault — Valny, i., p. 156. 


of valley and mountain must needs contain stores of interest and novelty, and 
far away the high silver Alp-like points speak of grand and majestic scenery, 
well worth an effort to visit, all of which has been hidden until now by the 
thick cloud-covering of the distant hills. 

At 5.30, after a peep at the J. S.'s in their new dwelling at Dr. Ribton's, in 
one of the four cottage villas, I went up the hill on the north side of the town, 
immediately above the Hotel de Londres ; there are very charming walks among 
olive trees here, as well as on an open kind of common, where cactus growth 
and granite boulders form a thousand ready-made foregrounds. This is one 
of the most striking views I have yet seen in the neighbourhood of Ajaccio ; 
far below lies spread out the whole city and the broad gulf, across which you 
look to the high range of hills stretching out to Capo Moro, while to the east 
the gorge of Bocognano and the lofty snow-topped walls which shut in the 
valley of Bastelica rise in great splendour and beauty. The line of the hill 
cape opposite is, however, one only to be managed in a picture with delicacy, 
by breaking it with cloud shadows, for its uniform length is wanting in variety 
of outline. Pitifully barren of interest is the city as to architecture. In what 
place along the two Riviere, or the Gulf of Spezzia — or, indeed, in what part 
of Italian coast scenery in general — should one not feel a desire to sketch some 
arch, some campanile, or even the whole town or village ? Here, on the 
contrary, you seek to avoid drawing a space literally filled by great warehouse- 
like buildings, unrelieved in the slightest way except by parallel lines of 
windows. This, and the gloomy darkness of the dress of both sexes, are 
certainly drawbacks to Ajaccio in a picturesque sense. 

At dinner, M. Ottavi tells me that from fifteen to twenty-five francs daily 
may be asked for a two-horse carriage. But he is to enquire further. 

April 12, 6 A.M. — At the end of the Cours Grandval. The morning is 
lovely, and there is a delicious fresh and light mountain-air sort of feeling in 
the atmosphere. The distant heights are absolutely clear, a wall of opal, and 
to-day, for the first time, I see this remarkable view in perfection. No amount 
of building, even should this part of Corsica become eventually as villa- 
covered as Mentone or Cannes, Torquay or Norwood, can ever affect the 
character of this exquisite prospect, which depends on elements far above all 
risk of change ; on the wide extent of its horizon and on the great majesty 
of the two dark ranges of hills opposite, connected by a line of heights still 
loftier, conveying a forcible impression of the solemn inner mountain life of 
the island ; on the broad and generally placid gulf; on the long and marked 
form of the hills to the south side of it ; and on the wide expanse of water 
towards the western sea. All these cannot alter. The olive-grown slopes, 
the almond groves, the gardens, and the breadth of shrubby wilderness and 
high cactus may disappear, but the general aspect of the distance cannot 


change. Why, I ask myself, do people compare this Gulf to the Bay of 
Naples ? To me it seems that no two places more dissimilar can exist. 

Scarcely any one comes to this part of the neighbourhood of Ajaccio ; a 
few boys and girls are seen searching for wild asparagus, and one or two 
individuals with surprising chimney-pot hats taking a morning walk. So 
till nine I draw quietly, and, after a talk with the J. S.'s, return to the town 
and get letters from the post. If I wanted any confirmation of my resolve 
not to go about the island in diligences, I could have none better than 
an examination of the vehicles which start at 1 1 A.M. for Sartene and 
Bonifacio, for Vico, and for Bastia via Corte. To be shut up in one of 
these might be endured if duty or necessity so ordered ; but on no other 
consideration whatever. 

On coming back to the hotel the plague of little boys bursts forth again 
in a new phase. It pleases some twenty to have instituted a blockade inside 
the street-door of the house, and the fun is to hold it closed against the 
battering and hammering of some twenty outside, wholly irrespective of the 
interests of the frequenters of the establishment ; and this lasts till the outer 
party conquer and the door is beaten in, when the calamity ceases, and a 
passage up-stairs becomes possible. At no time does the impression of 
multitudinous little-boyhood leave me in Ajaccio ; no sooner am I up-stairs 
than I happen to look beyond the houses of the Place du Diamant towards 
two high and slanting walls following the direction of the steep hill-side 
hard by. Now, in any other place where I ever was, such walls would be 
infested by cats, or pigeons, or swallows ; but here I count twenty-eight 
little boys, all crawling up the wall-tops after the fashion of lizards, and 
sliding down again — which pastime goes on all day long. 

M. Galloni d'Istria pays me a visit, and obligingly goes over the ground I 
am about to visit on the Government map with me. He quite concurs with 
me as to the advantage of a carriage tour, and recommends me to stay first 
at Sartene, one of the four Sous-prefectures of the island, and where, by means 
of letters he will supply me with, I can learn more definitely from M. le Sous- 
Inspecteur of Forests, what may be the condition of the high passes as to 
snow in the neighbourhood of the Forest of Bavella, through which I am to 
return to Ajaccio. He recommends me to visit the plains on the east side as 
early as I can, on account of their great unhealthiness late in the season, and 
to leave the high forests on the west and in the centre of the island till the 
snow is melted and the chesnut woods out in leaf. I decide, therefore, to 
start on the 14th or 15th, if, meantime, I can find a carriage to suit me. 

2 P.M. — To the Necropolis on the sea-shore road. Many of these tomb- 
temples are very pleasing in form, and the view from the last of them looking 
back to the gulf head and mountains is striking. They stand all along the 
shore, at the foot of the hills which form the northern side of the gulf, ending 


in Punto Parata, separated by the carriage-road from the granite rocks that 
stretch out into the sea, a sad but picturesque landscape, and one somewhat 
recalling the Via Appia or other sepulchre-bordered roads. (See Vignette, p. 5.) 

Beyond the Campo Santo all along the road-side the growth of myrtle, 
lentisk, cactus, and asphodel, is luxuriant beyond description ; and the lies 
Sanguinaires form numberless combinations with such foregrounds. Masses 
of pale granite, covered in part with cystus, are at the outer edge of the road, 
and run out into the gulf in spurs, white foam breaking over them and 
catching the sunlight, while the pointed islets on the horizon gleam darkly 
purple against the deepening sky tints. (See Vignette, p. 4.) 

Returning, there are more persons walking, as it is a fete day, than I have 
yet seen in the neighbourhood of Ajaccio. The head-dress of the women, so 
graceful and becoming, is generally, among those not in mourning, of buff or 
purple, with a broad white border. The short Greek spencer and fluted dress 
is most frequently worn, though there are a few of more modern or fashion- 
able cut. I observe hardly any girls whom one might call beautiful, but 
nearly all have a very pleasing expression and a look of intelligence. Among 
the gloomily dressed men, a group of French soldiers here and there in red 
and blue form a pictorial relief. 

In the town the small-boy plague has gone into another form to-day, 
besides the passage-swarming and door-blocking. Crowds of urchins have 
taken to rushing to and fro with small barrows with shrilly shrieking wheels ; 
each barrow contains three small Corsicans, and is pushed and pulled by 
twice as many more. 

After dinner I visit Miss C, whose acquaintance indeed is well worth culti- 
vating. Her interest in Corsica and all it contains is extreme. The collection 
of plants and natural history she has made in the island, and her drawings of 
the numerous fish found here, must have fully occupied her leisure through 
the winter ; she has already accomplished some long mountain excursions, and 
really knows the island well. A person uniting great activity of mind, 
physical energy, good judgment and taste, as this lady appears to do, and 
bent on introducing Corsica to the English South-seeking public, may 
really become instrumental in bringing about great changes in Ajaccio. 

April 13, 5 A.M. — Off once more to the cactus and asphodel lands beyond 
the Cours Grandval, to finish or proceed with drawings ; mountains perfectly 
clear — gorgeous purple, silver, and blue. I doubt if any double range can be 
finer, what though the refinement of Greek outline and the contrast of plains 
be wanting. If the city were tolerably supplied with picturesque architecture, 
few finer subjects for a painting could be found, so good is the middle 
distance of trees, so rich and varied the foreground vegetation. I work, too, 
this morning at another drawing nearer the city, and quite on the shore (see 


Plate 2); in the first hours of morning this view is very imposing, the vulgar 
detail of the houses being hidden in shade, and the high snow mountains 
appearing to rise directly above them. 

M. Galloni has not yet sent the promised budget of letters ; neither have I 
found a carriage ; so it seems clear that a start to-morrow cannot be accom- 
plished. The landlord here asks me if he shall give me a letter of intro- 
duction to some " banditti," a few of whom are still known to live in the 
Macchie, or woods of the interior. " They are rich," says M. Ottavi, " ils ne 
manquent rien — they have plenty of sheep and do nobody any harm." But 
Madame O., on the contrary, says, " Ah, je vous prie done, ne vous en allez 
pas, ils vous abimeront ! — do not go, I implore you, they will destroy you!" 
At breakfast time my host and hostess generally supplies one of the broches, or 
broccieC), a sort of cheese or preparation of milk, for which Corsica is famous ; 
it is made of sheep's milk, and is precisely the same as the Ricotta of Italy. 
Generally it is eaten with sugar. With fresh fish, broccie, and the good 
ordinary red wine for daily fare, might not a painter do well to come here — 
air and landscape being such as they are ? Already I begin to feel infected 
by Corsica-mania, the more that the quiet of the country adjoining this city 
reminds me of Olevano and Civitella and other mountain places where I 
studied painting in early days. Assuredly Ajaccio is a place where activity 
and bustle are little known ; very seldom you see a carriage in its streets, 
barring those of the postal service ; and even carts are rare objects. 

By-and-by comes the man who is to let me the carriage and two horses. 
We agree on the price, fifteen francs a day — this is to include all expenses of 
driver and horses, and I am to pay neither more nor less, whether I remain 
stationary or use the trap daily. To-morrow I am to make a trial excursion. 

It is discovered that my man Giorgio (of whom, in some twelve or thirteen 
years' service, there exists no tradition of his having been known to forget 
anything), has left my flask on board the steamer, so we must take to gourds, 
which, indeed, are the popular and appropriate media for carrying fluid in 
Corsica. Almost every peasant carries one, slung to his shoulder by a string ; 
those in common use are generally of large size, but there are others smaller, 
very pretty and delicate, and these, when polished and finished with silver 
stoppers and chains, are really elegant. 

2 P.M. — What is there to do ? There is " Napoleon's house " to be seen ; 
or rather that in which he was born. So, not being in an industrious mood 

( ! ) After the cheese they make the renowned broccio, in the following way. The milk which drains from 
the cheese is heated in a copper with a certain quantity of pure milk, and is stirred with a large spoon. 
The pure milk becomes condensed by slow degrees, care being taken to skim off the scum produced by 
the boiling, and then the condensed part is taken up in the large spoon and placed in moulds, which are 
made of fine rushes woven together, and is left for some time to drain and to cool. The price of the 
fresh cheese varies from twenty to forty centimes the pound. The broccio, which is more highly appre- 
ciated, is sold at from forty to sixty centimes the pound. — Galletti, p. 49. 


(and, indeed, the cloudiness of the day prevents colouring out of doors, as I 
had intended), I go to the Place Letitia, a small square, of which, as I before 
mentioned, the Casa Buonaparte forms almost the whole of one side. 
Although I confess to having gone to this sight with a kind of routine or 
duty feeling, the visit gave me very great pleasure. The house — there is 
now an inscription above the door recording that Napoleon I. was born 
there, with the date of his birth — is much more roomy and pleasantly 
habitable than its exterior would lead one to expect, and it is easy to see 
that it was one of a superior class in Ajaccio a century back. ( l ) Nearly 
all the furniture passed into the possession of the Ramolini (Madame 

( l ) The house in which Napoleon Buonaparte was born is among the best in the town ; it forms one 
side of a miserable little court leading out of the Rue Charles. It is very accurately given in the recent 
work of Las Cases. At present it is inhabited by M. Ramolino, one of the deputies for the department 
of Corsica. Among other curiosities which this residence contains is a little cannon that was the 
favourite plaything of Buonaparte's childhood. It weighs thirty French pounds. — Benson, p. 4. 

The house where Napoleon was born is to the imagination the first monument in Ajaccio. Before 
it, a little square, planted at the four corners with acacias, has received the name of Place Letizia ; the 
house, in height only a single storey above the ground floor, is little changed, and indicates the dwelling 
of a well-to-do family. It was pillaged in 1 793 by peasants opposed to the Republic, after the flight of 
Madame Letizia and her children to her country-house of Melilli, while Napoleon was at Bastia. A 
fine portrait of Napoleon in imperial costume, by Gerard, is in the salon next to the bed-room, and it 
was in this salon that Napoleon was born. The little bronze cannon, a plaything of his infancy, disap- 
peared some years ago ; they tell me it was stolen, and that no trace has been found of it. The European 
house of Napoleon has passed into the hands of strangers to his race ; no furniture of the time exists 
there, no inscription is read above the door ; and by-and-by this house will not be distinguishable from 
any others in the city. — Valery, i, p. 160. 

From the street of St. Charles you emerge on a small rectangular place. An elm tree stands before 
an old-fashioned, yellowish gray, stuccoed, three-storeyed house, with a flat roof, and a gallery on it, with 
six windows to the front, and worn-out looking doors ; on the corner of this house you read the inscrip- 
tion, " Place Letitia." No marble tablet tells the stranger who comes from Italy — where the houses of 
great men announce themselves by inscriptions — that he stands before the house of Buonaparte. . . 
The house, but little altered since his time, is, if not a palace, yet, at any rate, the dwelling of a family of 
rank and consequence. This is declared by its exterior ; and it may be called really a palace, in com- 
parison with the village-cabin in which Paoli was born. It is roomy, comfortable, cleanly. But all 
furniture has disappeared from the rooms, &c. 

In this house, the cradle of a race of princes, the excited fancy seeks them in all the rooms, and 
sees them assembled round their mother ; ordinary children, like other men's ; schoolboys toiling at 
their Plutarch or Caesar, tutored by their grave father and their great-uncle Lucien ; and the three young 
sisters growing up careless and rather wild. . . There are Joseph, the eldest son ; Napoleon, the 
second born ; Lucien, Louis, Jerome ; there are Caroline, Elise, and Pauline ; all the children of a notary 
of moderate income, who is incessantly and vainly carrying on lawsuits with the Jesuits of Ajaccio to 
gain a contested estate which is necessary to his numerous family, for the future of his children fills him 
with anxiety. What will they be in the world ? and how shall they secure a comfortable subsistence ? 

And, behold ! these same children, one after the other, take to themselves the mightiest crowns of 
the earth— tear them from the heads of the most unapproachable kings of Europe, wear them in the 
sight of all the world, and cause themselves to be embraced as brothers and brothers-in-law by emperors 
and kings ; and great nations fall at their feet, and deliver their land and people, blood and possessions, 
to the sons of the notary of Ajaccio ! Napoleon is European Emperor ; Joseph, King of Spain ; Louis, 
King of Holland ; Jerome, King of Westphalia ; Pauline and Elise, Princesses of Italy ; Caroline, 
Queen of Naples. So many crowned potentates were born and educated in this little house by a lady 
unknown to fame, the daughter of a citizen of a small and seldom mentioned country town, Letitia 
Ramolino, who, at the age of fourteen, married a man equally unknown. There is not a tale in the 
" Thousand and One Nights " would sound more fabulous than the history of the Buonaparte family ! — 
1852, Gregorovius, pp. 351, 352. 

Uninhabited, and without a vestige of furniture, except some faded tapestry on the walls, the desolate 


Letitia's family), who inherited the property ; but there are still in the 
apartments mirrors, old framework of chairs (like the walls, they appear 
to have been formerly covered with red or gilt tapestry), marble chimney- 
pieces, and large fireplaces, one or two highly ornamented chests, an 
ancient spinet-piano, the sedan-chair of Madame, her bedstead, and a few 
portraits ; all beside, as far as I saw, is bare unfurnished wall, and much 
of what I have named has been collected by the present emperor of the 
French from various places. The long gallery, the terrace and courtyard 
at the back of the house, the dining-room, every part of the building has 
its interest of association, and by walking through the apartments one is 
carried back to the days when the most wonderful man of modern times lived 
in it as a boy. To me, who years ago was in the habit of frequently visiting 
one branch of the Buonaparte family, the place is doubly interesting ; and when 
I remember the group of the late Prince Canino's numerous children, of whom 
in those days I saw so much, I seem to be more able to realise the circle of 
the first Napoleon's mother and her little ones. The elderly person who 
showed me the house had lived in the service of Princess Caroline Buonaparte- 
Murat, Queen of Naples, and was interested at hearing me speak of the 
houses at Musignano and l'Arricia, where I was wont to be so kindly 
received in former days. No Buonaparte now resides at Ajaccio, except 
the Princess Mariana, wife of Prince Louis Lucien, a younger brother of 
Charles Lucien, late Prince of Canino. There is plenty of food for reflection 
in a visit to the Casa Buonaparte in Ajaccio. 

3 P.M. — I wander through this town, so like a village in its outskirts, and 
sit on a wall to write journal notes and cast up accounts. There is a statue 
of General Abbatucci close by, with posts, chain-connected, at a little distance 
all round it. I count fifty-three children swinging on these chains, and rather 
more swarming up some carts not far off. Certainly, the multitude of children 
is a striking feature in Ajaccio street scenery, and M. Ottavi tells me that 
numbers of the male population emigrate to the continent for a part of the year, 
so that the apparent comparative fewness of grown-up men or youths may be 
thus accounted for. After walking a mile or two I turned back when near 
the Palazzo Bacciocchi, a handsome building which stands in gardens towards 
the head of the gulf, and thence, repassing the town, regained my favourite 

and gloomy air of the birthplace of the great emperor struck me even more than the deserted apart- 
ments at Longwood from which his spirit took its flight. — Forester, p. 216. 

The house has been renovated by the present emperor, the old family furniture has been sought out 
and brought back, and everything has been replaced as much as possible in the same position as when 
the rooms were occupied by the Buonapartes in former days. — Bennet, p. 255. 

On the subject of the antiquity of the Buonaparte family, M. Valery, citing as his authority the 
historian Limperani, states that a deed, by which in the year 947 certain seigneurs gave some property at 
Venaco to an Abbot of Montecristo, was witnessed by one of that family, and that the name is spelled 
Bonaparte. Filippini mentions one Gabriel Buonaparte, chanoine de St. Roch, as a theological lecturer 
at the end of the sixteenth century. — Valery, i., p. 158. 


spot at the end of the Cours Grandval. Here, in spite of the cold and chilly 
afternoon, I find Mrs. J. S. making a good view of the scene, for she hath 
an able hand and eye ; but I, too idle to recommence work, employ myself 
in constructing an artificial and beautiful foreground of cactus-leaves and 
asphodel-stalks stuck endways into a tall pyramid of stones for that lady 
to copy, who, far from applauding, not only censures my performance as 
absolutely deficient in natural grace, but absolutely declines to make a 
faithful portrait of it in her sketch. 

Back to the hotel, after sitting some time with J. A. S., and here I find 
that M. Galloni d'Istria has very kindly sent me the promised budget of 
introductory letters for Olmeto, Sartene, Bonifacio, and Porto Vecchio. All 
to-day, after the first hour or two of early sunshine, has been gloomy and 
cloudy. Helix tristis prevails. 



Trial Trip in a Carriage — The Lower Penitencier at Castelluccio— St. Antonio, its Grand Scenery and 
Granite Boulders— Visits with Miss C. — The Prefecture — Moufflons — Leave Ajaccio for the South 
of the Island— Peter the Coachman— Miss C.'s Predictions — Campo dell' Oro— Valley of the 
Prunelli, and Beautiful Scenes— Cauro—" Hotels " in Corsican Villages— Mrs. Paoloni and her 
Inn ; its Accommodation, &c— The Col di San Giorgio— " Maquis " and Wild Flowers— Valley 
of the Taravo — Descent to Grosseto — The " Hotel des Amis ; " Civil People and Good Fare — Ilex 
Trees— Quiet Civility of Corsicans — Beautiful Drive by the River, and Ascent to Bicchisano — 
Winding Mountain Road to Casalabriva, and Descent to Olmeto — The "Hotel" — Picturesqueness 
of the Town and its Situation — Tombs — Olive Slopes and Woody Scenery — Rain — Visit to a Sick 
Englishman — Leave Olmeto — Charming Scenery — Gulf of Valinco — Propriano and its Port — Valley 
of the Tavaria — Extremely fine Landscape — Long Ascent to Sartene — Description of the Town — 
" Hotel d' Italie "— Fatima of Sartene — Views of Sartene and the Valley — M. Vico, and his advice 
about farther Travelling ; Bavella, &c. — Constant Work for the Painter — A Day by the Rocks of 
the Tavaria ; Exquisite Subjects for Pictures — Granite Rocks and Foliage by the River — Mourning 
in Corsica — Fatima's Opinions about Household Cleanliness. 

April 14. — Still thick cloud, not a mountain-top visible : Corsican 
topography thriveth not. Nevertheless, at seven I go out to the cactus 
land and granite rocks, for one can make foreground studies ; but no, it 
begins to rain, and I have to return. Is there, as I said this time four years 
ago in Crete, no settled weather here in April ? So I sit down to write letters, 
especially one to M. Galloni dTstria, thanking him for his assistance. 

Miss C. went yesterday to Bastelica, but as yet those high regions are 
too heavily laden with snow ; so that she came back instead of staying there. 
This lady is very obliging in answering my innumerable questions about 
numerous places in Corsica. 

At 9, when it rains less, I call at Dr. Ribton's to see the J. S.'s. You enter 
their " salle a manger " straight from the road, a system which — all the world 
being seated at breakfast — is destructive to the peace of the delicate-minded 

Says a Frenchman to me, and truly— speaking of the slow-walking people 
in the Piazza here — " ils se promenent, ces Corses, comme des estropies, ou 
comme des limacons — these Corsicans walk like cripples or snails" — Helix 
tristis to wit. And, certainly, on a wet day it would be hard to find so dull a 
place as Ajaccio. Suli, in Albania, is gay by comparison, Wady Haifa, in 
Nubia, bustling ; for those are places of by-gone times, whereas we are here 
in a "city." 

An inevitable necessary, money, is next to be obtained through a letter 
of credit to M. Conti, Receveur- general ; and after that comes a visit to 
Miss C, who prophesies that I shall repent employing the people of whom 
I have hired the carriage. Meanwhile the carriage in question comes ; it 


seems a comfortable and strong trap, and I do not think fifteen francs a day 
will be dear if the driver and horses are good ; of the latter G. remarks, 
" elvau coaav ttovtikoi — they are like rats" — and small they certainly are. 

2 P.M. — After hard rain all the morning it is now moderately fine, so I set 
off to try the vehicle, the driver of which I own has a face — if there be any 
truth in physiognomy — not at all indicative of good character. The trap does 
not go badly — which, as it may be one's daily home for a couple of months, it is 
pleasant to know — and the two poor little horses shuffle along quickly enough. 
We take the road to Castelluccio, the upper Penitencier, or convict establish- 
ment, but turn off at the lower building, whence a bridle road goes on to St. 
Antonio, a place Miss C. recommends me to visit as one of the most picturesque 
hereabouts. All around the Penitencier convicts are working, and fast changing 
these bare or maquis-covered hills into vineyards^ 1 ) 

Leaving the carriage here, I follow a winding track, which, leading to the 
rocks of St. Antonio, very soon leaves all traces of habitation and humanity, 
and might be exceedingly " remote from cities " instead of close to a capital. 
The walk along the hills is delightful, and the " maquis," of which I have 
heard and read so much, full of charm — orchids, cyclamen, lavender, myrtle, 
cystus, absolutely a garden of shrubs and flowers. As the path approaches 
the mountain which stands immediately above the chapel of St. Antonio, the 
views of this " wild waste place " become wondrously grand. Such granite 
crags and boulders I think I have only seen at Philae and in the peninsula of 
Sinai ; and from the little platform, whence the whole mountain side is visible, 
with the western sea beyond, the strangely desolate prospect is greatly im- 
pressive. The chapel, a small and ancient building, can only be portrayed 
together with the rocks from one or two positions ; but the cliff or mountain 
is in itself a world of study, an endless storehouse of chasms, boulders, and 
peaks. Many new and great ideas of landscape may be gained by the painter 
who visits St. Antonio. {See Plate 3.) 

Returning to the trap, I drive to the town, and, at G.'s request, go to the 
fish-market, which is really well worth a visit, for the strange beauty of colour 
and the novelty of form of the fish there. Then a little more study at the 
" grotto gardens " and a visit to J. A. S. wind up the day. 

At 1 or 2 to-morrow I hope to start on my way to the south of the island, 
sleeping the first night at Cauro. 

(*) The wild shrubberies, by the natives called " maquis," clothe great parts of the country through 
which we passed. This term is generally applied to the wild vegetation so common in this island. It 
seems to be a corruption of the Italian word " macchia." — Benson, p. 13. 

A large portion of the surface of Corsica — I may say, all that is not a primeval forest, or under cul- 
tivation—is covered with what they call "maquis." I do not like to use the word brushwood or scrub, 
for such are very common words to apply to groves of underwood composed of myrtle, arbutus, cystus, 
rock-roses, and Mediterranean heath; and yet of such is the interminable "maquis" composed.— 
Bennet, p. 251. 

The Corsican mountains are covered with the arbutus or strawberry tree, which gives a rich, glowing 


April 15, 5 A.M. — Heavy rain has fallen all night, and there is much 
more snow on the mountains, a sign probably of settled fine weather. For 
a short time I drew at the "grotto gardens," from which beautiful spot the 
landscape never tires; this morning the mountains are of the very darkest 
purple, and the freshness of the flowers and foliage after rain delicious. The 
drums and bugles of the soldiery make an odd accompaniment to scenery 
so tranquil and poetical. At Dr. R.'s, where I call to say good-bye to the 
J. S.'s, I find S. far from well, and leave them uneasily with a feeling that his 
inability to travel may detain them here longer than they anticipate. 

Arrangements for the afternoon's start, bill settling, &c, occupy me till 
noon, and then follows a visit with Miss C. (with whom the Helix tristis has 
nothing in common, for she is always merry and active) to the Hotel de 
France, where the F. W. family are staying ; thence, with two more ladies, we 
adjourn to the house of the Princess Louis Lucien, or, as she is more generally 
called, the Princess Mariana Buonaparte. This lady, who has still the remains 
of great beauty, has much charm of manner, and is much liked by those who 
know her. Her rooms, pleasant in situation, were full of interesting portraits 
of the Buonaparte family. Her pleasure in speaking of Musignano, where 
she found I had formerly been used to study, was very evident, and my offer 
to send her a small view of the house was received with delight. 

Our party then go to the Prefecture, where Miss C. wants to show us some 
young moufflons or muffoli ; there are two of them, lambs or kids, call them 
as you will, well made, active little creatures, shy and wild, notwithstanding 
their early captivity. The moufflon, an animal partaking of the goat nature 
and of that of the sheep, inhabits only the highest and most savage districts 
of Corsica, and comes down to lower levels only when compelled to do so by 
winter's heavy snows. 

It was 2.30 before the trap came to the hotel, and careful packing 
commenced ; one of my saddle-bags (or bisacchi) and the portable bed are 
stowed behind, well secured against rain by two wild boar skins ; inside the 
carriage, my servant's package and my leather hand-bag for small objects 
(Valery's volume, my only guide, included) leave good room for self, besides 
a large folio in the old Coliseum — a case or sack so called by my servant 
from its extreme antiquity and venerable look, used for holding drawing 
materials or food in many expeditions — and G. on the outside seat with 

appearance as far as the eye can reach (p. 46). Theophrastus, in his history of plants, expatiates on the 
wonderful size of the Corsican trees, to which, he says, the pines of Latium were nothing at all. He 
also says the trees were immensely thick here. Kctt oAws t))v vr\ffov 8acre7av /ecu tianep riypiwixevou rfj uKy 
—the whole island seemed crowded and savage with woods. — Boswell, p. 47. 

What struck us most, independently of the general effect, was the extraordinary verdure and 
exuberance of the vegetation, which overspread the surface of the country far up the mountain sides, not 
only as contrasted with the sterile aspect of the coasts of the continent we had just left, but in being, in 
itself, different from anything which had before fallen under our observation in other countries, whether 
forest, underwood, or grassy slope. — Forester, p. 31. 


the coachman, whose appearance is objectionable, and whose name is Peter, 
complete the arrangement. The kindly Miss C. has sent me a flask in place 
of the one lost, and calls from the window, cheerfully, " You should have taken 
my man Jean ! all your luggage will fall off! your horses will tumble! every- 
thing will go wrong !"' Absit omen ! and finally we start at 3.30. 

The way is along the Cours Napoleon, and out of the city towards the 
head of the gulf, leaving on the left the roads to Castelluccio, Alata, and 
Bastia, and passing the Villa Bacciocchi and its gardens, with some scattered 
villas and mulberry plantations — all these environs of Ajaccio are considered 
unhealthy in summer-time, on account of the marshy ground at the end of 
the gulf, parent of malaria fever. From this side of Ajaccio the view of the 
city is rather wanting in interest, though with a " composition " of boats 
it might be made more worthy; perhaps from near the Lazzaretto, or Fort 
d'Aspretto it is best. The blackness of the crows on the shore, and that of 
the dress of the peasantry, alike wanting in liveliness, are the foreground 
accompaniments. Leaving the coast the road passes along the Campo di 
Loro (or dell' Oro), ( l ) a flat plain with here and there those wide spreading 
marshes, so unfriendly to the health of the city. The rivers Gravona and 
Prunelli, which flow from the high mountains of Renoso and dell' Oro, by the 
valleys of Bocognano and Bastelica to the sea, are crossed by long bridges. 
In winter time, when the snow lies on the heights at the head of these valleys, 
many beautiful pictures might be made here among the broad green meadows ; 
just now, heavy storm clouds obscure the distance ; flocks of blackest sheep 
and a world of glittering silver-blossomed asphodels are the chief objects 
noteworthy. From the river Prunelli, where the road turns inland, and begins 
to rise, the scenery becomes more rugged and severe, reminding me of that of 
the valley of the Kalama in Albania, hemmed in by hills of no great height, 
above which are glimpses of far purple and snow. 

At 5 the ascent becomes steeper and winding, and I avoid the high road to 
walk by short cuts, pleasant paths by heath-like slopes above a stream, beside 
which groups of large and as yet leafless chesnut trees are scattered. Every 

( l ) The Campo dell' Oro was the scene of the heroic exploit recorded by Germanes, of the twenty- 
one shepherds of Bastelica who came down from the mountains and routed 800 Greeks and Genoese of 
the garrison of Ajaccio. Intercepted at length by infantry embarked on the little river of Campo dell' 
Oro, and surrounded by the marshes of Ricanto, they were all killed excepting one, a young man, who, 
stretched among his comrades, and with his face discoloured with blood, feigned death. Discovered by 
the Genoese hussars, who decapitated these noble victims, he was condemned by the Commissioner of 
Genoa to die, having first been led through the streets of Ajaccio carrying six heads, those of his rela- 
tives. He was afterwards quartered and exposed on the walls. — Valery, i., p. 183. 

The valleys of the Gravona and the Prunelli, the waters of which discharge themselves into the 
Gulf of Ajaccio, are barely cultivated ; the plains situated at their mouths are unhealthy and marshy. 
It would be easy to drain and irrigate them, and thus increase their value tenfold. Besides, the neigh- 
bourhood of Ajaccio would excite not merely the emulation of ordinary labour, but also the spirit of 
speculation and calculations regarding the future, for sooner or later that city will become a rendezvous 
for those who seek health or pleasure. — Grana 'champs , p. 30. 



turn of the way up the hill shows changes of lovely green scenery, dells of 
crowded ilex, and a bosky richness of foliage, with now and then knots of 
tall trees on slanting turf, such as Stothard might have painted ; and then, 
looking back, the whole Gulf of Ajaccio is spread out to the western sun, and 
the capital of the island, the rocky hill of St. Antonio, and the long lines of 
the hills on the northern side of the gulf, fill up the picture^ 1 ) 

Higher up still, the view into the valley of the Prunelli becomes most grand, 
and from a point in the road near some wayside houses (they call the place 
Barraconi), the mountains shutting in the valley are particularly imposing, and 
I am sorry that it is too late (6 P.M.) to do more than jot down a memorandum 


of the exquisite effect of sunset which just now makes this scene so fine. As 
the sun goes down, the high snowy summit of Mont Renoso seems on fire, 
seen through a rose-coloured veil of mist above the nearer dark purple moun- 
tain ; below this, in deepest shadow, are great masses of rock, and at their 
foot lies the rich hollow valley and village of Suarella — a scene which I trust 
to return to. 

6.30. — The village of Cauro is reached slowly, and by a stiff last pull, 
just as the sunset hues of gold and crimson — bright as those blazing dying day 
glories on the Nile — have turned to lilac and cold gray. The chief part of the 
village and its church stands back above the high road on the right (you may 
see it glittering against the hill-side as you stand at the grotto of Napoleon 
at Ajaccio, or at the end of the Cours Grandval), that with which I have to do 

(') At Cauro I had a fine view of /Vjaccio and its environs.— Boswell, p. 355. 


is a row of mean-looking houses by the wayside on the left, and I am curious to 
know what sort of accommodation Corsican mountain travel will really exhibit. 
Two of the dwellings are lodging-houses, or, as they are called in this island, 
" hotels," a term applied here to the least pretentious of inns, such as we 
might call pothouses in an English village, and of these two the first applied 
to is full, and cannot take me in. Nor does there seem much better fortune at 
the second " hotel," at the door of which two very civil landladies inform me, 
with many regrets, that their three rooms are taken up by a party of officials 
on a tour of inspection of boundaries, and that they have but their own apart- 
ment left, which they will give up. This, as a beginning of Corsican journeys, 
is not encouraging; but there is no help for it, for it is too late to go on or to 
go back ; and, besides, having undertaken " to see all Corsica," the matter must 
be gone through as it best may. So the " roba " is brought up to the third 
floor by a rickety ladder-stair, and in a little while my man sets up my bed, 
to the extreme amazement of the two hostesses, and makes things tolerably 
comfortable in one corner, while a mattrass in the farther one is to do for 
himself. The hostesses, with all the family, are to sleep in the kitchen, and 
Peter, the coachman, inside the trap. 

Meanwhile, Mdme, Angela Paoloni, the chief landlady, brings notice that 
M. the Inspector, and the other officials, are about to sit down to supper, and 
she intimates plainly that unless I and my servant do so too, no other 
opportunity may present itself; so that the occasion is seized without delay. 
Miss C. had already told me that there would rarely be a chance of master 
and man eating separately, and that in her journeys she and her maid had 
always been co-partners at meals. 

In a small but clean-looking front room there was a large round table, 
which every one sat down to. The quality of the food served was quite 
unexpected in so rough-looking a roadside hostelry ; there was a tolerably 
good soup, and after it the inevitable boiled beef and pickles, then a stew, a 
timballo, roast lamb and salad, and a superb broccio. Capital wine, and 
plenty of it, was supplied. 

Hardly had I sat down to supper than I found I had committed an error, 
into which a little previous thought might have prevented my falling ; yet, 
with the very best intentions, a man may sometimes " rush in where angels 
fear to tread." One of the party spoke French with a Parisian accent, the 
others were Corsicans. "Vous etes done Francais, Monsieur ?" said I; a remark 
which directly produced a sudden chill and pause, and after that came this 
reply — " Monsieur, nous sommes tous Francais," I had yet to learn that the 
words "French" and " Corsican " are not used by the discreet in this island ; 
you should indicate the first by " Continental," and the second by " Insulaire" 
or " du pays." It is as well, indeed, to recollect that there are old men still 
living who can remember the hopes of Corsican independence even up to 


the end of the last century, and, consequently, all allusions by a stranger to 
differences of race are as well avoided, now that both people are under one 

The fact, too, that I spoke Italian with greater facility than French 
evidently puzzled my supper companions, and when I asked questions about 
the country, there was a kind of occult distrust observable ; travellers in 
Corsica — in out-of-the-way places at least — are rare ; might I not be a revolu- 
tionary agent ? I asked about the wines made in the island, but when ill-luck 
urged me to speak about Sardinian produce, dumbness or short replies ensued, 
and at once I found that Sardinia was a tabooed subject. The better I spoke 
Italian and the more I hesitated in French, the less respectable I became, 
and since at the commencement of travelling in a new country one has all to 
ask and learn, my numerous inquiries were received and answered with 
caution, and my evil genius having suddenly prompted me to ask something 
about the Straits of Bonifacio, there was again a full stop, and a sensation as 
if all Caprera-cum-Garibaldi were about to burst into the room. 

After this I confined myself strictly to observations on the nature of the 
supper and upon the climate of Ajaccio, and as the conversation afterwards was 
chiefly on local or municipal topics, I was glad to get away to rest for an early 
start to-morrow. 

Earnestly entreating my servant to snore as little as possible (he can 
hardly occasion more disturbance than F. L., and I used to suffer in Greek 
khans from old Andrea), I congratulate myself on my forethought in bringing 
my little military bed, and think that if Corsican travel brings no greater 
hardship than this of its first day, it may be very bearable. 

April 1 6. — Mdme. Angela Paoloni, of the " Hotel " or " Cafe Restaurant 
du Cours," at Cauro, did not certainly overcharge for her supper and lodging, 
and for coffee this morning — to wit, three francs per head. A desire to oblige, 
and a homely sort of friendly manner, are also what I have to note down 
respecting this the first Corsican country inn I have come to. 

By 6 A.M. Peter and the trap are ready, but as the road is an ascent as far 
as the Col San Giorgio, eight kilometres onward, and, as the morning is lovely, 
I set off walking, after having searched in vain for some spot whence I could 
make a characteristic drawing of Cauro ; moreover, the landscape looking 
westward from above the village, though very beautiful, is of such magnitude 
and so full of detail as to be quite out of the pale of an hour or two's sketching. 
When the day is but just commenced, and the amount of what may be 
available for work is as yet unknown, it is not prudent to sit down to make a 
drawing, the time given to which may be proved later in the day to have 
been ill bestowed, in comparison with what should have been given to scenes 
which the painter is then reluctantly compelled to pass by in haste. 

April 16.] 



All the way up to the Col San Giorgio (the road throughout is broad 
and good, and the ascent not very steep) a succession of beautiful mountain 
scenery delights the eye ; and from a spot whence the majestic Monte d'Oro 
forms the principal point above all the surrounding heights, it is impossible 
not to pause to get a drawing. Yet the fine distance hardly attracts the 
attention more than the near at hand details of the excessively rich foliage 
which is the characteristic clothing of all the hills. This " maquis," or robe 
of green, covering every part of the landscape except the farthest snowy 
heights, is beyond description lovely, composed as it is of myrtle, heath, 
arbutus, broom, lentisk, and other shrubs, while, wherever there is any open 


space, innumerable crimson cyclamen flowers dot the ground, and the pic- 
turesque but less beautiful hellebore flourishes abundantly. Here groups of 
ilex or chesnut rise above the folds of exquisite verdure ; there, but rarely, 
you pass a plot of cultivation, or a vineyard, in which stands one of those 
branch-woven towers supported on four poles, and not unlike a Punch and 
Judy box, called Torri di Baroncello, such as one used to see in days of 
Calabrian sojourn.^) The freshness of the morning mountain air adds to the 
pleasure of this walk, and as it increases higher up, this compensates for the 

(*) The leafy huts, called Pergoliti, formed by four young pine-stems fixed on small elevations 
in the middle of the vineyards, with a sort of first floor and a roof of clay, have a picturesque effect. In 
them abides the Garde Champetre, called, absurdly, Baroncello. — Valery, i., p. 181. 

In the vineyards curious watchmen's boxes are frequently seen . . . called Pergoliti. They consist 
of four young pine-stems, bearing a little straw-thatched hut, in which the watchman can lie down, high 
in the air. — Gregoroznus, p. 400. 

D 2 


gradually barer scenery of the col, just below the summit of which, marked 
by a single roadside house, is a plentiful fountain of excellent water. 

From the Col San Giorgio the road now turns eastward to descend into 
the great valley through which the river Taravo flows from the Col di Verde, 
joined on its way by streams from Zicavo, Sta. Maria, &c, into the Gulf of 
Valinco. The wide hollow, or basin, presents quite a new prospect full of 
variety and beauty ; on the farther side of it you see the village of Bicchisano, 
and above that, the road will pass the highest hills that bound the valley, and 
again dip down to the sea at Propriano, between Olmeto and Sartene. 

Meanwhile, the descent to the next village, Grosseto, where Peter the 
coachman says we must make a mid-day halt, and whence the road instead 
of following up the valley towards the mountains runs directly across it, 
continually increases in beauty ; the wild outspread of mountain form beyond, 
the profuse luxuriance of foliage, the refreshing greenness on all sides are 
really enchanting ; a continual succession of park scenes, groups of large 
chesnuts and venerable ilex trees, great shadowy snow-topped pine-grown 
heights far away, or huge granite masses close to the road, giving a constant 
interest to the scenery.^) Often I could have liked to make a drawing, but 
thought it better not to delay at present, for the day's journey may be a long 
one, and the landscape is of a character to require sustained and attentive 
work. A landscape painter might well pass months in this valley of foliage, 
villages, mountain, and river. 

9 A.M. — Grosseto is reached, and Peter not a little surprises me by saying 
it is quite necessary to remain the night there, declaring that the village of 
Bicchisano is twenty-two kilometres, or some fourteen miles, farther on, but 
on inquiry I find the distance to be but fourteen kilometres, and that if I 
prefer doing so I may easily, when the horses have well rested, say by eleven 
o'clock, get on to Olmeto before evening. 

Grosseto is a village of scattered houses, and of the most quiet and rural 
appearance. Among five or six of its dwellings grouped together is one, 
neatly white, with " Hotel des Amis " inscribed on it, to which we have driven ; 
a little beyond the inn, and standing alone, is the church, sheltered by fine 
ilex-trees, and a picture in itself (the ilex grows to an extreme size hereabouts), 
behind it are more evergreen groves and pastures, and the road which leads by 
Santa Maria Zicche to Zicavo. 

Some time must pass before breakfast, which G. has ordered, can be ready, 
and I would gladly employ the time in sketching ; but, as is usual when an 
artist is obliged to stop anywhere for some such commonplace cause as horse- 

C 1 ) I seek in vain for any well-known district of Italy to give an adequate idea of such Corsican mountain 
valleys as these. The Apennines would approximate to them in many places. But these Corsican 
mountains and valleys seemed to me far grander, wilder, and more picturesque, from their chesnut groves, 
their brown precipices, foaming torrents, and scattered blackish villages.— Gregorovius, p. 411. 


baiting, eating, or sleeping, the spot to which destiny nails him happens to be 
the least picturesque in the neighbourhood, and on the present occasion, 
without going back some distance, it is not easy to hit upon a subject for 
drawing, unless one made an elaborate study of an evergreen oak. The 
whole of this beautiful valley seems full of " silent woody places," but all the 
scenery is of a grave, or as some would say a Poussinesque character, for the 
sombre foliaged cork and ilex give ever a sad and dark tone to landscape, 
and a hasty sketch can convey but little idea of its character. 

The village church is the only subject I can commence on, but, perversely 
enough, this can be done as I wish but from one single spot, to wit, in the 
road ; so I send for a chair and draw in public. But there is no fear of being 
disturbed ; a few men, all grave-looking, and dressed in shabby black and 
brown, stand round, but are quite well-behaved, and do not interrupt me, 
while groups of children look on silently at a greater distance. These Cor- 
sicans all appear to me intelligent ; I cannot recall having as yet seen a dull 
or stupid countenance in man, woman, or child ; nor is the intelligent expres- 
sion one of sharp cunning, but rather of thought and good sense, always, 
however, with a shade of gravity — very little gaiety have I yet seen in Corsica. 
During this morning's progress I do not think I saw more than eight or ten 
peasants, and of those, three were close to a mill hard by this village, yet this 
is the high road to the south of the island, and the Diligence stops to bait at 
the " Hotel des Amis " daily. 

At 9.30 I go into the little wayside inn, and through a dirty entrance and 
by a bad wooden staircase arrive at a middle room, which seems that used 
by the family, and on each side of this are very clean and tidy little chambers, 
vastly better than the outside of the house would lead one to expect. In one 
of these, where prints of the Emperor and Empress, and of some of the acts 
of Napoleon I., adorn the walls, and in every part of which there are evident 
marks of attention to neatness and cleanliness, a small table is covered with a 
clean cloth, and breakfast is soon brought. The hostess, a homely but pleasant- 
mannered widow, with two rather nice-looking daughters, and a son who acts 
as waiter, apologise in few words for having little variety of eatables. Tra- 
vellers, they say, come very unexpectedly, and for long intervals not at all ; so 
that, excepting at the times of arrival of the Diligences, they seldom have food 
in the house beyond such as they now set on the table, namely, eggs and 
salame (or ham sausage), a plate of good trout, and an indifferent steak, but, 
above all, a famous broccio, for which, on G. asking if they had any, they had 
despatched a messenger half an hour ago to some sheepfolds nearer the hills. 
Assuredly, after much that one has heard of wild and savage Corsica, the 
interior accommodation of this little inn surprises me, and the particular 
civility and desire to please, unaccompanied by any servility, are as satisfac- 
tory as the Widow Lionardi's charges, three and a half francs for breakfast for 



me and my servant, a good bottle of wine, besides coffee, for myself being 
included in the sum. 

1 1 A.M.— Off again, the road following the course of a clear stream, which 
makes its way to the Taravo, at times by the edge of steep banks and preci- 
pices, which I prefer coasting on foot, because there are no parapets, and Peter 
the coachman drives " whiles " more crookedly than is agreeable. The weather 
just now is delightful, and it is no small pleasure to walk below the beautiful 
shady trees — groups of immense aged evergreen oaks — through this charming 
valley, where the first cuckoo of the year is heard, and all along which the 
scenery, of a grave hue, reminds me frequently of that in " Epirus' valleys," 
although both this and that has each its own particular characteristic — 
Corsica, the broad carriage road which I see ahead for miles ; Greece or 
Albania, pastoral incident and the brightness of gay costume. Now the 
stream becomes more picturesque, dashing and foaming over granite boulders, 
like the Tavy or the Lyd ; farther on it runs through a deep hollow filled 
with trees — and such trees ! And then it falls into the Taravo, the main river 
of this fine valley, over which a bridge carries the high road. Hence the 
landscape generally is less like southern scenery than Welsh or Scotch, though 
now and then a bit of Greece seems before me, where, as here, the evergreen 
oak is so characteristic a tree. One or two of these spots completely recall 
the wood scenes of Eriligova, in Thrace. Would that here there were the 
village girls of those parts, with their gold and coin chains, their red caps, 
and their festoon'd flower head-dresses ! Meanwhile it is much to sit below 
huge brown-armed trees, full foliaged, shading a green slope of freshest turf 
and fern, less green, indeed, than coloured with cranesbill, cyclamen, and 
forget-me-not ; my man the while gathering huge bunches of watercresses 
from the streams about, aidful of supper supply at the next halt. Where 
that halt will be does not seem certain, for the sky is becoming cloudy and 
threatening, and Bicchisano, still far up on the opposite hill, seems to have no 
especial attraction, though doubtless in fine weather the views from its high 
position and those of the snow-powdered rocks close above it, would be worth 
a stay to study. 

In winding up the ascent above the Taravo Peter seems less and less to 
control his horses, which are apt to make for the side of the road with an 
abruptness that would be alarming were there such precipices as those nearer 
Grosseto; but Peter, whom I suspect to have been frequently more or less 
asleep, apostrophises them with a lively fervour—" What, then, did you think 
that wall a house and stable? Do you want water, and run to that rock to 
find a fountain ? " 

At 12.30 Bicchisano, the mountain village extolled by some as a good 
summer residence, is reached ; it appears to be a collection of hamlets, and 
there is said to be one of the best little inns here on the road between Ajaccio 

April 16.] DESCENT TO OLMETO. 39 

and Bonifacio, but the day has now become cold and windy, and as there 
would not be a chance of exploring the upper valley of the Taravo, I resolve 
to drive on to Olmeto, a decision clinched by a sharp storm of sleet and rain, 
which adds to my desire to exchange this high and shivering situation for a 
warm one, which Olmeto is considered to be. 

A long ascent leads from Bicchisano ( l ) to another village, Casalabriva, pass- 
ing obliquely up the south side of the valley of the Taravo, commanding a 
constantly widening view towards Capo di Porto Polio, on the Gulf of Valinco, 
in front, and looking back to the high central range near Mont Renoso, now 
of a dark smalt-blue under the shadow of heavy clouds, with here and there 
strips of fierce light on the snow. The promontories or spurs which, descend- 
ing from the mid-island heights form the walls of these deep and long valleys, 
are evidently constant characteristics of Corsican scenery on its west side. 
Throughout this ascent the road winds in and out along the mountain side, 
now carried round deep recesses or gorges full of enormous ilex, anon passing 
great masses of granite, shaded by great trees growing from their crevices; at 
several points clear fountains gush out by the wayside, but neither habitation nor 
human being was visible for the two hours employed in this part of the journey. 

The top or col of this long climb is reached at 2.40 P.M., and turning abruptly 
round the hill, the long lines of the green valley of Taravo disappear, and 
Peter halts at Casalabriva, a more compact village than Grosseto or Bicchisano, 
but, with the exception of some rocks and evergreen oaks at its entrance, not 
promising in appearance. Nor, even were the weather fine, should I care to 
draw the place, the houses of which have no pretensions to the picturesque, 
though there are some peculiarities in their structure which speak volumes as 
to their discomfort and uncleanliness.( 2 ) 

From this height ( 3 ) the road descends very rapidly into the next valley 
which adjoins that of the Boracci, a stream flowing into the Gulf of Valinco 

( x ) At Bicchisano, a town of 800 inhabitants, there is a charming view from its new chapel and 
promenade. The prospect extends over a vast cultivated valley, with a glimpse of the sea and the Gulf 
of Taravo. 

( 2 ) [I regret not having visited Sollacaro, which is not far from Casalabriva. — E. L.] 

Sollacaro, a village of 600 inhabitants, is distinguished for its view and for the number and 
variety of its historical associations. It was at Sollacaro, during one of the sojourns of Paoli, that 
Boswell visited him, and he speaks (Boswell, p. 354) of the house of the Colonna, in which he lived, as 
much decayed, and admitting both wind and rain. Here, too, it was that the widow came to General 
Paoli with her second son, " I have lost my eldest in the defence of his country, and I have come twenty 
leagues to bring him who remains, that he may serve you." — Valery, i., p. 197. 

Sollacaro was a village always celebrated in the history of the island. It was the residence of the 
Signori dTstria, and at some distance from the village stands their feudal castle, almost entirely 
destroyed. The ancient house of Vincitello dTstria still exists on a high perpendicular rock in the village. 
The dungeons into which tnat tyrant threw his prisoners may still be seen. — Galletti, p. 155. 

But Sollacaro may have more interest for the public of the present day from its connection with a 
romance of Alexandre Dumas, and the play founded upon it, than from Paoli's having held court, or 
Boswell's visit to him there. — Forester. 

( 3 ) It is called the Col Celaccia separating the valley of the Taravo from that of the Boracci, and is 
576 metres in height. 


— and for a while hereabouts I fancy that I see the hills of Sardinia " fringing 
the southern sky," but am not sure whether the vision be land or cloud — and 
sending on Peter and the trap to whatever hotel there may be at Olmeto, 
I walk down the steep zig-zags leading to that little town, which stands 
perhaps half way down between the col and the shore. Thick wood, mostly 
evergreen, is the characteristic of this valley, which, unlike that of the Taravo, 
is narrow and closely shut in by heights, the tops of which are bare ; and 
their sides are covered with dense maquis, as well as groves of ilex and wild 
olive, and these, as the nook in which Olmeto is built expands lower down 
into the broad vale of the Boracci, are exchanged for rich plantations of 
cultivated olive, fruit trees, and corn. 

3.30 P.M. — Olmeto, which from this approach you do not see till you 
are close upon it, is wholly unlike those villages of Corsica I have hitherto 
seen, and resembles many a hill town in Italy ; compact, and very picturesque, 
its houses looking towards the south and east, and hanging as it were in a 
steep hollow of hill which entirely shelters it from the west wind ; it is gifted 
with galleries and inequalities, and varieties of light, and shade, and colour, 
delightful to the painter's eye. The entrance is gloomy and dirty ; a narrow 
street runs through the village from end to end, and it is thronged with 
people, all in dark dresses, and all sitting or standing idle. 

Nearly at the end of the street is Peter with the trap, at the door of 
the hotel — a most forlorn looking structure, entered by a flight of steps, 
eminently suggestive of possible bone fractures, being composed of very high 
and slippery stones without any parapet; and at the top of this is a small ante- 
chamber of equally forbidding appearance, leading to a sitting-room similarly 
unprepossessing. Half one end of this is occupied by a large open fireplace, 
with chimney-corners, where a wood-fire is blazing, a not unnecessary set off 
against the cold and damp of the day, and in which a little boy who perpetu- 
ally coughs is crouched on a small stool. A very tiny bed-room, far cleaner 
than the appearance of other parts of the house would warrant one to expect, 
just allows of my camp-bed being set up in it, and my servant can be put up 
on a sofa in the " salle a manger;" so, as dinner is promised by the landlady 
at sunset, I consider myself settled at Olmeto for the present. The hostess 
indeed, Mdme. Paolantonuccio, seems to be well satisfied with her hotel, and 
she tells me two gentlemen have been living for more than a month in it. 

Meanwhile I go out in search of a point to make a drawing of Olmeto, 
which is in truth a beautiful place, and for general position, details, and sur- 
rounding scenery, as picturesque in every sense as any Italian town I ever saw- 
When you have passed out of the west end of the single street — there is a 
very large fountain here, as at the other extremity of the town — you perceive 
high above you, among the great towering rocks, one of those solitary 
sepulchre-chapels so remarkable in this island ; and beyond it, a cross on a 


slight elevation above the high road, at once marks the precise spot from 
which a view of Olmeto must be made. Thither I went, and laboured at 
a large drawing, until showers of rain stopped my work. 

No more beautiful site than that of Olmeto can be pictured. Immediately 
below the town the ground dips steeply down, covered with corn or turf, or 


in terraces of vineyard, varied with large groups of fine olive trees, resembling 
those thick clustering masses below Delphi in North Greece ; and these stretch 
away to gardens and other olive grounds down to the shore. Above the 
village a vast growth of vegetation climbs the heights, and besides huge 
rounded boulders of granite and dark bosky shades of olive and ilex, there are 
tangles of every shrub the island produces, the wild olive or oleaster being one 
of the most elegant. Across the valley all the lofty hills seem one solid mass 


of " maquis," vivid green where lit by gleams of sunlight, or streaked with 
dark purple and gray as clouds rest on the upper heights or flit across the sky. 
And in the midst of this setting of every shade of green the little town of 
Olmeto stands out full of picturesque accidents of form and light and shade, 
its lower houses growing as it were out of granite crags, and surrounded by 
fruit trees. Nor does there lack foreground to this picture in the shape of 
rocky masses, creeper-and-lichen-grown, and imbedded in foliage of innumer- 
able kinds. Certainly, if Corsica turns out thus increasingly beautiful from 
day to day, I shall have more than enough to do ; but may weather be 
more propitious ! {See Plate 4.) 

Every part of the heights close to the town abounds with little picture- 
subjects — here a chapel, there a tomb exactly like " Absalom's Pillar " in the 
Valley of Jehoshaphat ; the dress of the peasantry alone is uninteresting in all 
this catalogue of picturesqueness. 

Before sunset, however, I am glad to leave it all, as damp and chill 
increases, and to come to the hotel, where, having ejected four cats, a dog, and 
the coughing boy, the rest of the evening is passed. The fare, as usual in these 
untoward-looking hostelries, is far better than could be expected, though woe 
to the traveller who cannot eat omelettes ! Mdme. Paolantonuccio, however, 
piques herself on abstruse and scientific cookery — eggs dressed with tomatoes, 
and other surprises, besides boiled and roast lamb, and the unfailing and 
excellent broccio, and wine of capital quality, the neighbourhood of Sartene 
producing some of the best in Corsica. 

A young man brings in the dinner, the hostess being employed in serving 
the two English gentlemen, who it seems are still in the village, though at 
another house. One of these two he describes as hopelessly ill, and I think 
I had better send or call to-morrow to know if any help can be given to a 
countryman in so out-of-the-way a place. 

April 17, 5.3.0 A.M. — This inn, wretched enough as to its exterior and its 
entrance, is, after all, not intolerable, and again I note in the people of 
the house the obliging manner which thus far into Corsica I have invariably 
met with. The view from Olmeto is one marked by extremely delicate beauty. 
The olives on the slopes below the town more than ever remind me of 
those at Delphi at this hour, when the landscape is in deep shadow — for, 
alas ! clouds are rapidly rising on all sides, and I fear rain. Most observable 
is the thickness and redundance of the vegetation here, the mingling of gray 
granite and green "maquis." But what could make M. Valery (Vol. i., page 200) 
write that Olmeto, a village clustered among rock and woods half way up a 
mountain, reminded him of Nice, a place of boulevards and promenades at 
the edge of the sea ? 

The weather holds up sufficiently to allow of my working a good bit on 


the detail of the drawing I commenced yesterday, but cloud and gloom increase 
every minute. While thus occupied, a good many of the men of Olmeto, 
going out toward their vineyards, pass where I sit, and some few stand still 
to see me draw. All are civil ; very dusky looking and slow, clad in the 
universal black or dark brown, and blackly bearded. But, on the whole, the 
people here appear a rougher set than those I have seen, and some of the 
children shout out, " O Anglais !" As yet, however, since I landed in Corsica, 
I have not met with a single beggar. 

At 7.30 there is but just time to return to the hotel before a violent down- 
pouring commences, and they say it will probably not cease all day. A 
conviction of dampness impresses me at this place ; and to-day, as well as 
yesterday, I observe very many people coughing. Fires, they tell me, are 
generally in use, and I cannot help thinking that the high hill which quite 
screens the town from the west, depriving it of afternoon sun, must be pre- 
judicial to dwellers in Olmeto, though, on the other hand, it saves them from 
the mistral. 

After breakfast there is nothing better to do than to draw portions of the 
town out of a side window, and I send a card to the sick Englishman to learn 
if he would like to see me, in case I can in any way help him. To this a 
messenger brings word that he will gladly do so at noon, on which I am taken 
to a small house not far off, and by a very dirty staircase reach a floor, 
where in a room, far more comfortable within than its exterior predicted, 
was the sick man, whom, to my extreme surprise, I found to be Mr. B., the 
eldest son of Lord E. B. Already in ill health, he had come to this island 
in search of a warm winter climate ; but by a fall from his horse had received 
a serious internal injury from which it is next to impossible that he can 
recover. Though suffering greatly at times it did not appear to me that he 
was in want of anything, and he had with him one who seems an attentive 
and good domestic or companion. When I left him I promised to return 
and dine with him at seven, if the weather did not hold up, which, they 
say, it is not likely to do, though I am not without hopes of it. Meanwhile 
I come back to the hotel and find sleep the best occupation. 

At 2 G. wakes me, saying " cdrpevec 6 Kcupos — the weather is curing 
itself" — and certainly the rain has not only ceased, but the clouds are breaking, 
and a decision must be come to at once, since 3 or 3.30 is the very latest at 
which I may start from here in time to get to Sartene, my next halt. I write, 
therefore, to Mr. B., stating that I am going to leave Olmeto, and then ordering 
Peter to get the trap ready, leave him and G. to follow, and set off on 
foot. Madame Paolantonuccio recommends me to go at Sartene to the 
Hotel d'ltalie, where her son is cook. 

All the way down to the sea-level the road from Olmeto zig-zags and curves 
through beautiful scenery, of similar character as to luxuriant foliage with 


that higher up, but opening out more and more to broad green slopes and corn- 
fields dotted with olives, and spreading into wide distances of Claude Lorraine 
landscape, either looking west or towards the hills at Fozzano,(') in the valley of 
the Boracci. At every step there are studies for pictures, if only in the hedges, 
which are in some places literally blue with a beautiful climbing vetch. 

The bridge over the Boracci, which runs into the sea here through some 
low marshy ground, green and pleasant to see, but exceedingly unwholesome as 
to air, is passed at 4 P.M. At the head of the Gulf of Valinco,( 2 ) which, spite 
of the bright sun now once more shining, has a sad and deserted look, the road 
follows the shore, and soon reaches Propriano, which stands on the sea, and 
appeared to me a dull and uninteresting place, containing some very tall and 
particularly ugly houses ; once a week the steamer which goes from Ajaccio to 
Bonifacio touches here, but it seems a place of small traffic. 

Striking inland, the road, after an uninteresting ascent, soon dips into 
the valley of the Tavaria, and here all at once the scenery becomes most 
beautiful in character, but unlike that I have passed through hitherto. Some 
of the scenes on the broad part of the river, which runs below exquisitely 
wooded hills, might be in Scotland or in Wales, and there are masses of granite 
and tufts of foliage perfect as foreground studies. One of the hills to the 

(*) Fozzano, a village of 700 inhabitants, the very hotbed of vendetta, is divided into two parts, 
composed of the most distinguished families, whose wealth and position enable them to continue this 
curse. These " vendette " (or vengeance), dating back forty or fifty years, have ruined this village, once 
one of the richest in Corsica. . . The aspect of this place at war with itself was shocking ; every 
peasant walked about armed ; the houses were fortified and barricaded, and the windows blocked up 
with bricks. A fourth of the whole population is in "vendetta;" between the families of the upper 
and lower village (di sotto e di sopra) such furious hostility exists that their members remain shut up 
in their dwellings, while even their children cannot go to school, for they would not be spared. More- 
over, these little rustic urchins know very well how to fire off their own pistols, and sometimes they have 
even their own private "vendette." On April 10, 1834, for instance, Louis Coli, a boy of thirteen 
years, shot another boy of Ajaccio in the head, taking him, while standing at a window, for one of his 
comrades with whom he had quarrelled. — Valery, i., p. 202. 

Arbellara and Fozzano form part of the canton of Olmeto. Both have acquired a bad celebrity from 
the sanguinary and inveterate enmities which have long existed between their wealthiest and most dis- 
tinguished families. At present, in appearance at least, they enjoy perfect peace ; but, oh, may such 
calm endure, and not be but the precursor of fresh tempests ! In these villages are houses which 
resemble fortresses, and which are surrounded by walls serving as ramparts. — Galletti, p. 157. 

[Fozzano is said to be the scene of M. Merimee's beautiful romance of " Colomba." — E. L.] 

(*) The Gulf of Valinco, into which the Taravo and the Rizzanesi flow, the two most important 
rivers of the west of Corsica. Like the Gravona and the Prunelli, they descend from the highest central 
mountains ; their slopes are wooded and cultivated. The port of Propriano, the outlet for the produce 
of these valleys, is not safe ; and the best anchorage in the Gulf of Valinco is at Porto Polio. — Graud- 
champs, p. 28. 

The basins of the Taravo and the Rizzanesi are separated from Bonifacio by several small uncul- 
tivated and wild valleys, which labour would fertilise, but which are now only frequented by flocks of 
sheep. — Grandchamps, p. 29. 

Porto Propriano, open to S.W. winds, is not safe. Porto Polio will be the most frequented of the 
ports on the western side after lie Rousse. The Port of Bonifacio, frequented by ships of small tonnage 
only, which carry on what trade exists between Corsica and Sardinia, is difficult to enter, and narrowed 
constantly more and more by detritus of ravines. — Grandchamps, p. 92. 

Not far from the bridge over the Boracci, at the end of the Gulf of Valinco, stands Propriano, 
remarkable for its pretty houses, its commerce, and the number of its warehouses. — Galletti, p. 156. 


right of the valley, with craggy outline and hanging woods, forms infinite fine 
pictures, and I have seen nothing in Corsica hitherto so classic and poetical. 
Beyond these succeed levels of cystus and asphodel, and then, after passing 
the opening of the valley of Tallano, the River Tavaria, which flows down it, 
is left, and the road begins the long ascent to Sartene, which stands at a great 
height, and has been visible since I came over the hill close to Propriano. 

Sartene,^) one of the four Sous -prefectures of Corsica, and a large, 
important place, is truly grand as approached from this side, though its 
architecture seems of questionable picturesqueness ; nevertheless, as a whole, 
it has an imposing look, and resembles Bova, in South Calabria, more than 
any place I can compare it to, though wanting in the castle-like groups 
of buildings which so adorn that Italian town. At Sartene, the massive 
square houses are more detached ; and in that respect it has a certain look 
of Arghyro-Kastro, in Albania. As the road winds up the very long ascent 
to the town, the views of the great valley below, so varied with graceful 
lines and undulations of cultivated ground, and so rich in wood, and of the 
splendid snowy heights of the long range of mountains opposite, terminating 
in the lofty regions of the great Monte Incudine, are exceedingly noble, 
and perhaps give me greater pleasure than all I have hitherto seen of the 
landscape in this island. The town is approached by a fine bridge over a 
torrent, and from this point the whole valley, down to the Gulf of Valinco, 
is seen — one of the wildest and loveliest of prospects, and such as I had not 
at all anticipated to find in Corsica. {See Plate 5.) 

Sartene seems to be a populous place, with many large houses ; but it 
was past sunset when I reached it, and I went at once to the " Hotel d'ltalie." 
For the Ajaccio diligence, which leaves Sartene at 6.30 P.M., had come 
thundering down the hill an hour before we arrived at the top of it, and, 
I suppose, to avoid any possibility of my being smuggled into any opposition 
locanda, the son of Madame Paolantonuccio, had come down to meet me, 

f 1 ) Valery, writing of his visit to Sartene in 1834. says— This town of 2,700 inhabitants, in a fertile 
territory, considered the granary of Corsica, had been for a long time one of the most peaceable parts of 
the island. At present, however, it only breathes war and vengeance. Hostilities recommenced on 
September 16, 1830, and (says M. Valery, after describing a succession of battles in 1833 and 1834, 
productive of bloodshed, death, and increased hatred) it is difficult to conceive the existence of such a 
state of society with French government ; they have regulated half Europe, but are powerless against 
the nature, manners, and passions of the Corsicans. — Valery, i., p. 223. 

Sartene suffered terribly from the Saracens. After repeated incursions, the Moors surprised the town 
in the year 1583, and in one day carried off 400 persons into slavery, probably a third of the population. 
— Gregorovius, p. 416. 

After the French revolution of 1830, Sartene was for years the scene of a horrible civil war. It had 
been split ever since the year 1815 into two parties, the adherents of the family Rocca Serra, and those 
of the family of Ortoli. The former are the wealthy, inhabiting the Santa Anna quarter j the latter the 
poor, inhabiting the Borgo. Both factions entrenched themselves in their quarters, fastened their houses, 
shut their windows, made sallies at intervals, and shot and stabbed one another with extreme rage. 
The Rocca Serras were the white or Bourbonists, the Ortoli the red or liberals ; the former had denied 
their opponents entry into their quarters, but the Ortoli, being determined to force it, marched one day 


and ensured my going to the right place by piloting me there himself. (Did 
I not, when I met that public conveyance, feel glad that I had not chosen 
to travel in it, knowing that the whole of the beautiful scenery from here to 
Grosseto would have been passed in the dark, seeing that the diligence only 
arrives at Cauro to-morrow morning at 7 A.M. !) 

At the hotel — as usual, occupying only one floor of a house, in this 
instance a good sized one — I found several decent apartments untenanted, 
and was accompanied to the one I chose for myself by the landlady, a person 
of most astonishing fatness ; her face was nice and pleasant, but in figure 
she was like nothing so much as FalstafT disguised as the " Fat Woman of 
Brentford." This bulky hostess looked on me with great favour, on finding 
that I was well acquainted with her native place, Como, and went into 
raptures when I talked about Varese and other Lombard localities. Never- 
theless, at one moment I thought our acquaintance was to be of no long 
duration ; for, having discovered me in the act of putting up my camp-bed — 
which at first, I believe, she thought was a photographic machine, or some- 
thing connected with art — she suddenly became aware of its nature, and, 
calling Giovanni and others of her household, shouted out, " Ecco un signore 
chi sdegna i letti di Corsica! — here is one who despises the Corsican beds!" 
— and I did not know what might have followed this discovery, till my 
servant assured her that this was my constant habit, and by no means 
referred to her particular hotel, by which announcement the amiable Fatima 
allowed herself to be pacified. 

Later, the supper she provided was excellent, and she could not be satisfied 
without bringing far more dishes than were required, with fruits and smaller 
delicacies, such as olives, pickles, butter, &c, and the best of Tallano wine, 

April 18. — Coffee was very obligingly got ready some time before sunrise, 
and the early part of the morning went in making a drawing below the town, 

with flags flying to the limits of Santa Anna. The Rocca Serras instantly fired from their houses, killing 
three men and wounding others, and this was the signal for a bloody battle. On the following day many 
hundred mountaineers came with their guns, and besieged Santa Anna. The Government sent a military 
force ; but, although this to all appearance produced tranquillity, the two parties still kept assailing one 
another, and killed several men of their adversaries. The variance still continues, although the Rocca 
Serra and Ortoli have met amicably at the festival of Louis Napoleon's election to the Presidency for the 
first time after an enmity of thirty-three years, and allowed their children to dance together. These 
ineradicable family feuds present the same spectacle in Corsica as the Italian cities, Florence, Bologna, 
Verona, Padua, and Milan, offered to the world in olden times ; but these family feuds are far more 
striking and terrible in Corsica, because they are carried on in such small places, in villages often possessing 
scarcely a thousand inhabitants, who are, moreover, indissolubly bound to one another by the bonds of 
blood and the rights of hospitality. At Sartene politics produced civil war ; elsewhere, this is produced 
by some personal injury, or by any the most trifling circumstance. For a dead goat there once died 
sixteen men, and a whole canton was up in arms. A young man throws a bit of bread to his dog, the 
dog of another man snaps it up, thence arises a war between two parishes, and the consequence is 
murder and death on both sides. — Gregorovius, p. 417. 

The town of Sartene is situated in the basin of the Rizzanese ; its annals ero no further back than 

April 1 8.] WALKS ABOUT SART£n£. 47 

some short way down the hill (from a spot whence a wonderfully fine picture 
might be made), until the sun, shining above the houses, prevented farther 
work. These views of Sartene are most majestic and poetical; and, more- 
over, while the buildings of the town are in shadow, the commonplace nature 
of their details is hidden. The great isolated blocks of granite which seem 
thrown about on all sides on purpose to serve as foreground, the excess of wild 
vegetation, the silence of the deep valley or plain, and the clear lines of snow 
crowning all, combine to make a thousand bewitching subjects. 

After 7 or 8, a walk on the other side of the city, and a long scramble 
among thick woods, where the ground is literally red with cyclamen, show me 
more of the Sartene scenery ; from the eastern side of the town you look 
into the quietest of profound valleys, above which the lofty line of what I 
suppose to be the Incudine mountain range shines crystal clear and bright 
against a cloudless sky. I shall certainly remain here to-morrow, at least, 
and try to get as many records as I can of the landscape, which is of a class 
rarely met with in such perfection, so fertile and so varied, so full of giant 
rocks, of abundant foliage, and sublime mountain forms. 

But it is necessary to give M. Galloni d'Istria's letters to the Sous-prefet 
and to M. Vico, Sous-Inspecteur of Forests, from whom I am to gain infor- 
mation about the woods of Bavella, which are to be visited from the east side 
of the island ; so I return to the town. The streets of Sartene are not gifted 
with any charm of liveliness ; the lofty square houses are built of blocks of 
rough granite, dark gray in colour, and many of them are so massive as to 
look more like prisons than private dwellings. 

Signor Vico, a most obliging person, gives me every information about the 
roads. From Solenzaro, he says, my light carriage can cross the heights of 
Bavella, at which place I am to have an introduction to the government 
agent, who resides in the forest, and thence I may return by Zonza, Levie, 
and Tallano, to Sartene. The whole distance across the mountains he repre- 
sents as about seventy or seventy-five kilometres — forty-five miles, more or 
less — and provided no new fall of snow occurs, I shall find no difficulty in 
crossing. He confirms M. Galloni's opinion, that the Bavella forest scenery 
is among the finest in the island. 

At 10 I am back at Fatima's hotel for breakfast. That person evidently 

the sixteenth century. In 1583 it was taken by assault by Hassan, King of Algiers. About 1732 the 
town suffered much from the incursions of pirates, and the eleven villages depending on it were reduced 
to one. — Grandchamps, p. 28. 

In the district of Sartene are also some remains of menhirs and dolmens, those ancient mythical 
stones which are found in the islands of the Mediterranean and in Celtic countries. They consist of 
columnar stones erected in a circle, and are here called stazzone. — Gregorovius, p. 427. 

In Sartene (writes the Abbe Galletti, proudly), are found shops of every kind, cafes, and hotels after 
the fashion of the Continent — GaUetti, p. 158. 

The poetical Gregorovius, p 414, says the streets of Sartene are peopled with demons, and calls it 
a large paese in melancholy isolation among melancholy mountains. 


has regrets for her native land, and my acquaintance with the towns and 
villages of her early days continues to give me great interest in her eyes. 
She is most profuse of good things ; her wine of the best quality ; her table 
cleanly and carefully set out; and her attentions unfailing. But she laments 
the little traffic of Sartene, and says, what must be true enough, that many 
articles of perishable nature cannot be kept, because so few passengers come 
to eat them. Her principal custom seems derived from pensionati, civilians, 
government officials, &c. (the officers of the garrison — for Sartene has a small 
garrison — go to the opposition hotel), and she makes such efforts to please all 
that she assuredly merits success. 

At ill start down the hill for a walk of nine kilometres (about six miles) 
to get recollections of the river scenery of the Tavaria, and of the great granite 
boulder foregrounds. The cuckoo sings cheerily, and the cystus flowers scent 
the air. Up to the seventh kilometre there is comparatively little to interest ; 
but thenceforward, when you have passed a wayside fountain where aged and 
broken ilex trees and a carpet. of fern make a picture, all is charming. Little, 
however, can be represented of this extremely beautiful scenery by the pencil 
alone ; the colouring of the river and that of the densely-foliaged cork and 
ilex groves, and of the granite fragment-strewn hills — which have a sort of 
velvety and speckled texture or quality — are characteristics only to be given 
by hard study with the brush. 

Returning, drew some of the great rock foregrounds. How difficult it is 
to give ever so slight an impression, on a small scale, of objects as full of 
detail as of grandeur — of those huge wrinkled Philse-like masses of granite ; 
of that mingling of tall evergreen oak and rock ; that smooth bright green 
turf, dotted with flocks of black sheep ! Worked till I was weary, and yet 
again, upon a view of Sartene, on my way up. The specky grayness of the 
hill on which the town stands is strongly contrasted with those parts that are 
covered with green-brown maquis. 

The long ascent to Sartene — I cannot call it tedious, so varied is the 
scenery, so delightful at this hour the song of innumerable blackbirds, so 
opportune the many little rock fountains for refreshment — was accomplished 
by 7.15 P.M. The last look before you turn towards the street leading into 
the town it is difficult to cut short — to pass the bridge, without lingering to 
gaze down the long, long valley westward to the sea. 

All through the day I have observed the civility of the passers-by, mostly 
bearded men in black or brown, with brown cloth caps, riding on spirited 
little horses, the few women with them always riding astride, and always 
dressed in black ; not a vestige of costume exists. Every one saluted me as 
I sat drawing. One called out, " We are glad you are making our Corsica 
known by drawing it!" Another said, " Perhaps when you foreigners know 
us better, you will cease to think us such savages as we are said to be! " 


Fatima's reception and supper were as cheery and good as heretofore. 
To-morrow I shall devote the whole day to the Tavaria scenery, and all 
things are to be. in order to start at sunrise if possible. 

April 19. — At 5.30 A.M. I walk down the hill, and drawing more or less 
by the way, gradually reach my farthest point, the bridge over the Tavaria, 
a distance of some eleven kilometres, or seven miles. Such a walk here, at 
early morning, is unboundedly full of pleasant items ; the whistle and warble 
of countless blackbirds, and the frequent cuckoo's note ; flowers everywhere, 
especially the red cyclamen, blue vetch, yellow broom, tall white heath, pink 
cranesbill, and tiny blue veronica; the great rocks — at this hour in deep 
shadow — overgrown with ivy, moss, and a beautiful red lichen ; the slopes of 
fern and cystus ; all these are on each side, and below there is ever the grand 
valley scene. I must linger yet another day at Sartene ; indeed, a week would 
be a short stay in these parts for an artist who really wished to study this 
fine order of Corsican landscape. 

About the seventh kilometre the road is lively by groups of peasants going 
up to the town on the fete day — lively, that is by movement, not by colour, 
for all are gloomily black, caps, beards, and dresses — trotting on little ponies, 
many of which carry two riders. While I sit drawing above the Tavaria 
bridge, a shepherd leaves his large flock of black sheep and stands by me. 
At length he says, "Why are you drawing our mountains ?" "Per fantasia 
e piacere," I reply, " for fun, and because it gives me pleasure to draw such 
beautiful places." " Puole," quoth he, " ma cosa siggriffica ?" — -" That may be, 
but what is the meaning of it?" — "da qualche parte dTtalia venite certo " — 
" You come, it is plain, from some part of Italy ; do you go about mapping all 
our country ?" — "facendo tutta la Corsica nostra dentr' una carta geografica ?" 
But I, who cannot work and talk at the same time, tell him so, on which he 
says, with an air of wisdom, " Si capisce — I understand," — and goes away 
apparently in the belief that I am constructing a political survey of the island. 

At 1 1 it is time for breakfast, which G. has set, with cloaks and a folio for 
chair and table, below a large olive tree some way off the road ; and Fatima the 
plentiful has outdone herself by a selection of good things, cold lamb, eggs, 
tunny, and Sta. Lucia di Tallano wine. I have seen few spots more full of 
poetical beauty than this, which, though close to the high road, would be 
completely a solitude but for hosts of birds, of which the woods are full, 
especially blackbirds, titmice, and bee-eaters, with many jays and ravens, 
whose home is in the crags high up on Monte Lungo. But after mid-day, 
all these woodland and mountain dwellers cease to sing or cry, and the 
bright dead silence of southern noon succeeds to the lively freshness of 
morning. Once only a living stream of some eighty jet black goats suddenly 
passes along the green sward by the little brook, sneezing and snuffling after 




[April 19. 


'1 ffl 














their fashion, and disappearing behind the 
great crags of granite, leaving silence as 
they had found it; little greenish lizards 
playing about the flat stones being now 
the only sign of life all around — 

" For now the noonday quiet holds the hill ; 
The lizard, with his shadow on the stone, 
Rests like a shadow." 

The whole scene recalls to me many a 
morning in Greece, and repeats the " days 
that are no more," as I had not supposed 
they could be brought back. 

Let a landscape painter, having set out 
from Sartene, turn off the high road to his 
left, where, a little beyond the ninth kilo- 
metre from the town, he comes upon some 
fine detached rocks, forming a screen to 
an opening that leads to a vista of thick 
wood and noble mountain, and let him 
follow the winding goat tracks to the foot 
of the hill ; there he will find on every side 
hundreds of foreground studies of incal- 
culable value. The granite fragments are 
usually of a pale dove or slate colour, 
mottled with thousands of vegetable tints, 
green, white, yellow, orange, and black 
lichen, tufts of a red kind of stonecrop, 
moss- and ivy ; and of such masses of 
rock with a portion of the background to 
make a picture, he will find enough work 
for months of artist-life. 

One more pause before setting out 
townward, to draw by the river where the 
wood overhangs the cliffs and masses of 
granite, and where the clear water reflects 
the delicate hues of the pallid hill above it. 
Then as thesunsinks lower(for it is4.30P.lvl.), 
while the light and shadow on the rocks in 
the valley and on the exquisite mountain 
is constantly changing, and silvering the 
high crags and gilding the tufted trees, I 
go reluctantly. Since I made drawings at 

April 20.] 



Mount Athos, in 1856, I have seen no heights so poetically wild, so good 
in form, and so covered with thick wood ; and, altogether, as a wild mountain 
scene this has few rivals. A shepherd tells me they call the chief hill here 
Monte Lungo. (See Plate 6.) 

The ancient Coliseum sack is packed, and I set off on my return. Here, 
at the seventh kilometre, are twenty Corsicans on just ten horses, no more— 
a by no means ordinary spectacle— riding back from Sartene. 

On the way up the long ascent I am met by the landlord of the 
Hotel de l'Univers at 
Sartene ; he says he had 
heard that my worship was 
coming, by a message from 
the Secretary-general, and 
" had not the son of that 
woman at Olmeto been so 
cunning as to seize your 
honour first, by artfully 
coming down the hill, you 
would have come to my 
hotel, which is wholly the 
best at Sartene, and most 
fit for you to have gone 
to;" to which I can only 
reply by regrets, and by 

assuring my host of the 

Universe that Fatima's inn 

is as comfortable as need be. 

Many a spot on the 

way up to the town has a 

charm at this hour which 

it does not possess earlier 

in the day, for now the sun 

has set, the contrast of the 

almost black ilex against the pallor of the fading blue mountains is lovely and 

wondrous ; so, by reason of lingering to make notes and memoranda, I do not 

reach Sartene till 7.45. 


April 20, 5.30 A.M. — The first part of the day is passed in completing 
drawings of the town and valley already commenced, and in making other 
small sketches characteristic of a place I may perhaps never revisit, at least with 
leisure for drawing. One or two of these sketches are of the mortuary chapels 
or sepulchral monuments, which are very numerous and conspicuous about the 

E 2 


neighbourhood of Sartene, and are often exceedingly picturesque, some high 
up peeping from thick woods of wild olive and cork, others in positions close 
to the road. 

Then I pay a visit to M. Peretti, one of the Sous-prefets of the depart- 
ment, who was away when I came here first, a very agreeable and kindly 
person. To his inquiries as to what I thought of and how I liked Corsica I 
made a reply which savoured certainly more of the artist than the politician, 
namely, that I regretted extremely to find no Corsican costume in the island. 
" Vous voulez done, Monsieur, recommencer avec la nationality Corse ? " " Do 
you wish to re-establish Corsican nationality ? " he asked, laughing. Of the 
present condition of the island he speaks as having absolutely no affinity with 
that in existence at the commencement of this century, or rather up to the 
year 1852, when the general disarmament of the population took place — 
" robbery, banditism, vendetta, all beyond that period belongs to the past, 
and are exchanged in the present day for security and tranquillity." 

After visit to M. Vico, it becomes requisite to practise letter-writing and 
resignation indoors, for, cloudy all the morning, it now rains in torrents ; the 
weather, however, has been very propitious for drawing in Sartene, and even 
this downfall may presage a clear day for to-morrow. 

4.30 P.M. — The mists roll up from the higher mountains, and disclosing 
bright paths of coming sunset, enable me to go out once more to make some 
last sketches. All about the Cappuccini — a small convent just outside the 
town — there are beautiful bits of landscape ; but they are not easily attainable, 
because there is an inconvenient custom here of building up high stone walls, 
enclosing nothing at all ; probably they mark divisions of property ; at the 
same time they interfere much with the researches of painters not gifted with 
kid-like activity. Nevertheless there is hardly a path round Sartene that 
does not lead to some surpassingly fine bit of landscape, and excepting 
Civitella and Olevano, I have known no such place for study combining so many 
features of grandeur and beauty. Perhaps in the finest parts of Calabria 
there is more analogy to the class of scenery here, but in that part of Italy 
there is a greater amount of culture and less variety of unbroken wildness. 
As the sun goes down, a band of golden light beams along the Gulf of 
Valinco, and a last shower breaks over the misty gray olive woods and the 
huge lichen-grown rocks ; so at 6.30 I return to the Hotel d'ltalie. 

I ask my hostess about the mourning which every one seems to wear here. 
She says, for a parent or a child you mourn for life, as also for brothers, sisters, 
husbands, and wives, unless you marry (or re-marry) after their death, on which 
event you cease to mourn, and a new life is supposed to commence. " Allora, 
il matrimonio taglia il duol — then marriage cuts the grief." For an uncle 
or aunt you mourn ten years, and for a cousin seven, so that it is not wonder- 
ful that the world is so mournful as to dress in these parts. On the hostess 


asking my opinion on various matters regarding Corsican inns, and on my 
gently suggesting that somewhat more cleanliness and attention in the matter 
of floors, stairs, &c. (for, indeed, the state of these contrasts strangely with that 
of the very clean linen, table service, &c), would be very likely to have 
beneficial effect on the recommendation of English visitors, Fatima says 
excitedly : " Come posso far tutto ? How can I do all things ? In 
Corsica there are no servants ; they consider service a dishonour, and will 
starve sooner than work." Yet she promises to do something for the 
unwashed floors. " Can I," she says, " prevent those who come to my hotel, 
and through whom chiefly I am able to keep it up, from bringing their dogs, 
and throwing all the bones and broken fragments of meat on the ground for 
them ? Cosa volete che faccio ?" Finally she hits on an ingenious compro- 
mise : " So bene che vi dev' essere la pulizia, ma qui in Sartene non e 
possibile — I know well that it is proper that things should be clean, but 
here cleanliness is impossible — Dunque, voglio colorire con color' oscuro 
tutt' il fondo delle camere ; cosi appunto non si scoprira le sporcherie ! 
— Therefore I will colour with a dark tint the floors of all the rooms, and so 
nobody will be able to see the dirt !" 

Peter the coachman, who has already asked for two supplies of money, 
comes for more, and it begins to be suspected that the horses do not 
altogether benefit by this so much as they should in the shape of orzo or 



Leave Sartene — Landscape at Early Morning — Valley of the Ortola — Verdure of Corsica — Wild Flowers 
— Lion Rock at Roccaspina — Coast Road — Lonely Village of Monaccia — Uncultivated and Wild 
Country — Low and Unhealthy Tract — Creeks of Figari and Ventilegne — First Views of Bonifacio 
— Descent to its Picturesque Harbour — Appearance of the Fortress and Town — Good Carriage 
Road — Fortifications— Narrow Streets — Widow Carreghi's Hotel — Walk through Bonifacio — Its 
most singular Position and extreme Picturesqueness — Obliging People of the Hotel — Dr. Monte- 
pagano, the Maire — View of Bonifacio from the Cliffs opposite, and great Beauty of its Aspect — 
The Conscripts' Farewell Fete — Staircases at Bonifacio — Walk with Dr. Montepagano, and Visit 
to the Convent of La Santa Trinita — Leave Bonifacio — Road — Groves of Olives — "Maquis" — 
Wild Flowers — Reach Porto Vecchio — Its Decayed Appearance — Madame Gianelli's Hotel — M. 
Quenza, the Maire — Wild and Beautiful Views of Porto Vecchio, its Gulf and Hills — Excellent 
Roads in Corsica ; Security ; Good Breeding of People — Climate of Porto Vecchio — Visit to the 
Forest of Spedale — Cork Woods — M. Quenza a good Companion — Blackbirds — Scenery of the 
Mountains of Spedale — Its Pine Forests, and extensive Views — Return to Porto Vecchio — Ento- 
mology in its Neighbourhood — Its Reputed Unhealthiness in Summer — Leave Porto Vecchio — 
The Bastia Diligence — Plains of Fiumorbo, their broad and beautiful Character — The River 
Vabolesco, and the Mountains beyond — Migliacciara, its Hotel and Surrounding Scenery — Road 
through Cork Woods and Thick Vegetation ; Tracks of "Maquis" — Gulfs of Pinarello and Tower 
of Fautea — Road Along the Shore — Flowers — Birds — Porto Favone, its quiet Beauty — Peter the 
Coachman becomes Disagreeable — Solenzaro — Hotel of the Widow Orsola — Information about the 
Forest of Bavella and the Road to Aleria — M. Mathieu — Beautiful River Scene and Chapel. 

April 21, 6 a.m. — After drawing an outline of the mountains, I am picked 
up by Peter, G., and the trap. After three days' stay (and I could willingly 
remain here for as many weeks ; for what have I seen of the upper valley or 
the opposite hills ?) I leave Sartene, and can bear witness to the good fare, 
moderate charges, and constant wish to oblige of Fatima, padrona of the 
Hotel d'ltalie. Poor Fatima, rumour says, is forsaken by her husband, and 
" dwells alone upon the hill of storms," as in the literal sense of the expression 
Sartene must certainly be, for it is exposed to all the winds of heaven, and 
from its great elevation must needs be bitterly cold in winter. 

Just above the town, where the high road to Bonifacio passes the Capuchin 
convent, there is the finest view of Sartene and the mountains ; the whole 
town stands out in a grand mass from the valley and heights, and there is 
something rough and feudal in its dark houses that places its architecture far 
above that of Ajaccio in a picturesque sense. (See Plate 7.) But to halt for 
drawing now is not to be thought of, inasmuch as this day's journey to Boni- 
facio is not only a long one, but because in the whole distance (some fifty- 
three kilometres, or thirty-two miles) there is only a single wayside house, 
where the horses are to bait, yet where humanity, expecting food, would be 
severely disappointed. Hearing which, the Suliot has taken care to pack 
the old Coliseum sack with food for the dav. 

April 21.] 



How grand at this hour is the broad light and shade of these mountains 
valleys ! (notwithstanding that such as 
leave their houses at ten or eleven A.M. 
complain of "want of chiaroscuro in the 
south.") How curious are the chapel- 
tombs, so oddly and picturesquely placed, 
and frequently so tasteful in design, gleam- 
ing among the rocks and hanging woods ! 
At first, after leaving Sartene, the road 
passes through splendid woods of clustering 
ilex, and then begins to descend by opener 
country, shallower green vales and scattered 
granite tors or boulders, here and there 
passing plots of cultivation, and ever farther 
away from the high central mountains of 
the island. Now the distance sweeps down 
to lower hills, all clothed in deep green 
"maquis," and at every curve of the road are 
endless pictures of gray granite rocks and 
wild olive.^) 

While I am thinking how pleasant it 
would be to get studies of this very peculiar 
scenery, by living at Sartene, and walking 
seven or eight miles daily, Peter suddenly 
halts below the village of Giunchetto, which 
stands high above the road. " What is the 
matter ?" says G. ; but Peter only points to 
the village and crosses himself, and looks 
round at me. "What has happened?" I 
repeat. Peter whispers, " In that village a 
priest has lately died, and without con- 
fessing himself." In the midst of visions 
of landscape — "What," as Charles XII. 
said to his secretary, u What has this bomb 
to do with what I am dictating ?" 

Farther on, near the eleventh kilometre, 
are some enormous granite blocks, with 
two or three stone huts by the road-side, 
and then follows a steep descent to the 
valley of the Ortola ; looking back, you see 


(') A rich waved country, with some few interruptions, reaches along the east and south coasts to 
Bonifacio. — Bosivell. 


a world of mist-folded mountains in the north-east, while ahead are "maquis," 
and cystus carpets, sown with myriads of star-twinkling white flowers, broom, 
and purple lavender. The descent to the Ortola valley abounds with beauty, 
and by its verdure reminds me of more than one Yorkshire dale — here, 
instead of the oak or ash, depths of aged evergreen oak and gray-branched 
cork-trees, shading pastures and fern. 

At 8, the river, a shallow stream, is crossed by a three-arched bridge ; 
and here, near a solitary stone hut, are a few cattle and some peculiarly 
hideous pigs — the only living things seen since I left Sartene. Then, at the 
eighteenth kilometre, an ascent on the south side of the valley brings me 
in sight of the long point and tower of Cape Roccaspina and of the broad 
sea, above which I halt at 9 A.M., for the great Lion of Roccaspina may not be 
passed without getting a sketch of it. And, truly, it is a remarkable object — 
an immense mass of granite perfectly resembling a crowned lion, placed 
on a lofty ledge of the promontory, and surrounded by bare and rugged 
rocks. (*) (See Vignette, p. 55.) 

The road now becomes a regular cornice coast-way, alternately descending 
and rising, always broad and good, and well protected by parapets ; long 
spurs of rock jut out into the sea beyond odorous slopes of myrtle and cystus, 
while in some parts enormous blocks and walls of granite form the left side of 
the picture. Presently the road diverges more inland, and is carried through 
wild and lonely tracts of "maquis," varied by patches of corn at intervals, and 
recalling the valleys of Philistia when you begin to ascend towards the 
Judaean hills from the plains near Eleutheropolis. Two flocks of goats — 
of course, black — and a few black sheep and pigs, who emulate. the appear- 
ance of wild boars, with one man and one boy, are the living objects which 
a distant hamlet (I think Monaccia) contributes to the life of the scene. 
Occasionally glimpses of the distant sea occur ; but, as far as eye can reach, 
the wild green unbroken "maquis" spreads away on every side. 

At 10.30 "half our mournful task is done," and the mid-day halt at a 
house (one of some six or seven by the wayside) is reached. The appearance 
of these dwellings is very poor and wretched ; and a gendarme informs me 

( 1 ) Not far from the mouth of the Ortoli stands a solitary post-house, and opposite it a ledge of rock, 
on which the tower of Roccaspina stands. An oddly-shaped block of stone rises near it on the sharp 
edge of rock ; it bears a striking resemblance to a colossal crowned lion, and the common people call it 
" II leone coronato." . . We proceeded along the coast, which is interrupted by arms of the sea, and 
melancholy. Small rivers creep through morasses into the sea, upon the coast cliffs of which gray 
towers hold guard. The air is foul and unhealthy. I saw a few small hamlets on the side of the hill, 
and was told that they were empty, for that the inmates do not return to them from the mountains till 
the month of September. . . Two small gulfs, that of Figari and that of Ventilegne, resemble fiords, 
&c — Gregorovius, p. 430. 

Failing the long-promised road from Ajaccio to Bonifacio, the sea twice bars your onward way to 
that city. As the shore is steep, it is necessary to go a good way out into the Gulf of Ventilegne to find 
a shallow ford, and thus you gallop, very poetically, but with no small discomfort, in the middle of the 
waves. — : Valety, i. , p. 229. 


that from the end of May till November they are all deserted, so unwhole- 
some is the air of this district ; and that the few peasants at present here 
go up at that season to the villages of Piannattoli or Caldarello — small 
clusters of houses higher up on the hill-side. How little cheerful the aspect 
of this part of the island must be then, one may imagine from what it is 
even in its inhabited condition. 

On a rising ground close by are some of those vast isolated rocks which 
characterise this southern coast of Corsica — a good spot whereat to halt for 
Fatima's breakfast. Looking southward, green lines of campagna stretch 
out into what is the first semblance of a plain that I have seen in this island, 
and which is exceedingly like portions of Syrian landscape. It was worth 
while to get a drawing of this, and I would willingly have stayed longer, but 
at I P.M. it is time to start again. 

The road continues across comparatively low ground by undulating 
inequalities, through wide " maquis"-dotted tracts, where here and there the 
tall giant-hemlock is a new feature in the more moist parts of the ground. 
Twice we descend to the sea at inlets or small creeks — Figari and Ventilegne — 
in each case passing the stream which they receive by a bridge, and at these 
points marshes and " still salt pools" show the malarious nature of the district. 
Nor does the landscape painter fail to rejoice that he has chosen this method of 
" seeing all Corsica," and that he is able to drive rapidly over this part of it, 
where there is no need of halt for drawing, for the higher mountains are far away 
from the south of the island, and the hills nearer the coast stretch seaward 
with a persistent and impracticable length of line not to be reduced to agree- 
able pictorial proportion. Once only, at 3 P.M., about seven kilometres from 
Bonifacio, I stop to draw, more to obtain a record of the topographic character 
of the south-west coast than for the sake of any beauty of scenery, of which 
the long spiky promontories hereabouts possess but little, although there is 
a certain grace in some of those slender points running far out into the blue 
water, and, though far inland, you may at times catch a glimpse of some 
heights of varied form ; yet, be your drawing never so long or narrow, the 
length of the whole scene is with difficulty to be compressed within its 

At 3.30 I send on Peter and the trap to Bonifacio, and walk, for so 
many hours of sitting still in a carriage cramps limbs and head. As the hills, 
from the ascent to which I had made my last drawing, are left behind, Boni- 
facio, the Pisan or Genoese city, becomes visible ; extreme whiteness, cliffs as 
chalky as those of Dover, and a sort of Maltese look of fortified lines are the 
apparent characters at this distance of a city so full of interest and history. 
Opposite, towards the south, a thick haze continues to hide the coast of 
Sardinia, and this has been no light drawback to the day's journey, since the 
sight of remote mountains and the blue straits would have gone far to relieve 


the "maquis" monotony, driving through which has occupied so much of 
the time passed between Sartene and Bonifacio^ 1 ) 

Meanwhile a space of three or four miles has to be done on foot, shut out 
from all distant view, as well as very uninteresting in its chalky white dryness 
of road, about which the only features are walls, with olives all bent to the 
north-east, and eloquently speaking of the force of the south-west wind along 
this coast. But at 4.30 P.M. fields of tall corn and long-armed olives replace this 
ugliness, and the road descends to a deep winding gorge or valley, closely 
sheltered and full of luxuriant vegetation, olive, almond, and fig. After the 
boulders and crags of granite, which up to this time have been the foregrounds 
in my Corsican journey, a new world seems to be entered on coming to this 
deep hollow (where a stream apparently should run, but does not), for its sides 
are high cliffs of cretaceous formation, pale, crenelated, and with cavernous 
ledges, and loaded with vegetation. 

At 5 P.M. the road abruptly reaches the remarkable port of Bonifacio, 
which forms one of the most delightful and striking pictures possible. 
Terminating a winding and narrow arm of the sea, or channel, the nearer part 
of which you see between overhanging cliffs of the strangest form, it is com- 
pletely shut in on all sides, that opposite the road by which alone you can 
reach it being formed by the great rock on which the old fortress and city are 
built, and which to the south is a sheer precipice to the sea, or rather (even in 
some parts of it visible from the harbour) actually projecting above it. At the 
foot of this fort-rock lies a semicircle of suburban buildings at the water's 
edge, with a church, and a broad flight of shallow steps leading up to the top 
of this curious peninsular stronghold ; all these combine in a most perfect little 
scene, now lit up by the rays of the afternoon sun, and which I lose no time 
in drawing. ( 2 ) (See Plate 8.) 

A broad and good carriage road leads up to the city, huge grim walls 
enclose it, and before you enter them you become aware how narrow is the 

(*) Crossing the last point of land in Corsica towards the south-west, namely, Santa Trinita — the 
tongue which ends in Capo di Feno — the white chalk cliffs of Bonifacio come into view, and this most 
southern and most original town of the island, itself snow-white like the coast, placed high up on the 
rocks ; a surprising prospect in the midst of the wide and depressing solitude. — Gregorovius, p. 430. 

The territory of the town of Bonifacio, built at the southern extremity of Corsica, is carefully culti- 
vated and covered with olive groves. The inhabitants, by toil and perseverance, have made their stony soil 
fertile, although it is devastated perpetually by terrible winds. As you approach the upper part of 
the territory of Bonifacio, you observe that all the trees are bent in an easterly direction by the pre- 
vailing winds, and their horizontal branches follow the same. These winds, prevailing from the west 
to the east, are produced by the central mountain mass of Corsica ; they are extremely violent at Cap 
Corso, and in the straits of Bonifacio, where navigation is often dangerous. Less strong at Calvi, 
they are unfelt at Ajaccio and Propriano ; they begin to prevail at Figari, and become very violent at 
Bonifacio. — Grandchamps, p. 29. 

( 2 ) The position of Bonifacio is extraordinary, and perhaps unique. On a calcareous rock, hori- 
zontal at its summit, almost perpendicular at its sides, and pierced with vast caves ; its little peaceful 
port, an oval basin formed by nature ; its marvellous sea-grottoes ; its fortifications ; all these together 
make Bonifacio the most curious city in Corsica; and to see it alone, the voyage thither would be worth 


little isthmus that joins the rock-site of Bonifacio to the main land; from a small 
level space close below the fort you see the opposite coast of Sardinia, and 
you look down perpendicularly into the blue straits which divide the two 
islands. Very narrow streets conduct from the fortifications to the inner town ; 
the houses are lofty and crowded, and Bonifacio evidently possesses the full 
share of inconveniences natural to garrison towns of limited extent, with 
somewhat of the neglected and unprepossessing look of many southern streets 
and habitations. There was no difficulty in finding the Widow Carreghi's 
hotel, but its exterior and entrance were, it must be owned, not a little 
dismal, and the staircase, steep, narrow, wooden, dark, dirty, and difficult, 
leading to the inn rooms on the third floor, was such as a climbing South 
American monkey might have rejoiced in. Nevertheless, once safe at the top 
of this ladder-like climb there are several little and very tolerably habitable 
rooms ; and, as seems to be invariably the rule as to Corsican hostesses, the 
two here are very obliging and anxious to please. 

There was yet time to walk through the town, which I was surprised to 
find so extensive and populous. Some of the churches are ancient, and near 
the end of the rock (though the lateness of the hour, together with a powder 
magazine and obstructive sentry, prevented my getting quite to its extremity) a 
considerable plateau with barracks and other public buildings exists, and I can 
well imagine some days might be spent with great interest in this ancient place. 
As it was, I could but make a slight drawing from the edge of the precipice 
looking up to the harbour or sea-inlet, but from such examination it was 
evident that the most characteristic view of this singular and picturesque place 
must be made from the opposite side of the narrow channel, though it does 
not appear how, except by boat, such a point can be reached. Bonifacio 
is doubtless a most striking place and full of subjects for painting ; the bright 
chalky white of the rocks on which it stands, the deep green vegetation, and 
the dark gulf below it, add surprising contrasts of colour to the general effect 
of its remarkable position and outline. 

undertaking. And you may add to all this interest, those of old and heroic associations, of ancient 
MSS., and, above all, of the quiet and good population, which, unlike that of the rest of the island, has 
never carried arms, nor has it been a prey to "Vendetta." Bonifacio, indeed, which had its own laws 
and coined its own money, was rather a confederate republic than a subject of Genoa. One of the 
oldest cities in Corsica, it owes its foundation to the illustrious Boniface, the Pisan lord, Marquis of 
Tuscany, Count of Corsica, Governor for the Emperors, &c. Boniface landed on this coast a.d. 833, 
and built the castle. . . At the entrance of the town, opposite the street called Pizzalunga, is the 
house in which Charles V. lodged in 1541 ; the door is decorated with an arabesque on marble of ele- 
gant design. When Charles V. left the city, his host, Philip Cattacciolo, shot the horse the emperor had 
used, saying that after him no one else was worthy to mount him. . . In the same street, and nearly 
opposite, I was shown a room occupied by Napoleon I. . . The great tower (Torrione), now a pow- 
der-magazine, was the old castle, and the only fortress of the town at the time of the arrival of the 
Genoese colony in 1195. La Manichella is the point nearest to Sardinia, from which it is but three 
leagues. — Valery, i., p. 234. — [Valery gives many details of the life of Buonaparte while residing here 
for eight months as second commandant under M. Quenza — E.L.] 

In order to conceal the famine which menaced them during the siege of the city by Alfonso of 


Returning to the Widow Carreghi's hotel, confusion prevailed throughout 
that establishment, owing to its being crowded at this hour by, not only the 
officers of the garrison, who take their food there, but an additional host of offi- 
cial civilians, gendarmerie, &c, to-morrow being a day of great excitement, on 
account of the conscription taking place, in consequence of which event the 
Sous-prefet is here from Sartene, with numerous other dignitaries. It was 
not wonderful that the two obliging women, who seemed joint hostesses, were 
somewhat " dazed " by the unbounded noise in the small and overfull rooms ; 
nevertheless, they got a very good supper for me and my man, only apologising 
continually that " le circonstanze " of the full house, and of the late hour at 
which I had arrived, prevented their offering more food and in greater comfort 
and quiet. Everybody seemed to be aware that I was a travelling painter, 
and all proffered to show me this or that ; the Sous-prefet, they said, had 
gone out to meet me, and the Mayor, for whom I have left a card and a 
letter from M. Galloni d'Istria (he lives in the Carreghi house), would come 
and see me to-morrow. Another of the persons at the table gave me his 
address at Casabianda, and begged that, if I should come there, he -might 
show me the ruins of Aleria. The whole party, " continentals " and " in- 
sulaires," were full of civility. 

All night long there was singing and great noise in the streets, so that in 
spite of my camp-bed very little sleep was attainable. 

April 22. — How to obtain the best illustrations of Bonifacio? and in a 
single day ? — that is to say, all that can be got upon dry land ; for though I 
am aware that the grottoes here are considered as some of the finest known, I 
have resolved not to go into any of them, for they are all situated outside 
the channel, in the cliffs on the open sea, and I mentally decide to relinquish 
whatever of seeing Corsica depends on entering a boat. 

Arragon in 1441, and which afterwards became so horrible, the Bonifazini threw loaves over the walls, 
and the women actually sent to Alphonso a fresh cheese made of their own milk. Hunger soon made 
the trait of the Roman daughters' filial piety common enough, for these intrepid and tender women ran, 
in the midst of dangers, to suckle the exhausted combatants, and there was not one of those who 
during the siege had not been revived by the generous draught. . . At last, after four months of 
dreadful sufferings, the Genoese galleys brought relief. — Kileiy, i., 246. — [Valery's details of the 
history of Bonifacio are full of interest. — E.L. ] 

The churches of Bonifacio attest its ancient importance, its manners, riches, and civilisation. S. M. 
Majeure, an elegant church of Pisan construction, &c. St. Dominique, the old church of the 
Templars, of a light Gothic, with an octangular tower, is also very remarkable, and is the largest in 
Corsica. . . St. Francis dates from 1398, fkc.— Valery, i., p. 239. 

The rock on which Bonifazio is built is connected with the land ; on two sides it is lashed by the 
surges of the straits ; on the third it is washed by a narrow arm of the sea, which forms gulf, harbour, 
and fortifying moat at the same time, and is enclosed by most precipitious, indeed, inaccessible hills. 
The force of the water has crumbled away the shores all round, and produced the most grotesque forms. 
Seen from below, that is, from the sea, which in many places has no edging of shore at all, this rock, 
rising quite precipitously from the waves, is most awe-inspiring. 

Bonifacio was founded by the Tuscan Marquis whose name it bears, in the year 833, after a 
naval victory over the Saracens, to oppose a flam to their piratical incursions, as they were wont 


The attentive Carreghi hostesses bring me coffee at 5, in a tumbler, 
which, it seems, is the mode in South Corsican households, and they give 
as a reason for doing so, that the coffee keeps hotter in glass than earthen- 
ware, which I do not deny; though at this early hour the unexpected feeling 
suggested by this practice— to wit, of your being about to drink a glass of 
porter — is objectionable. It is not possible to praise this hotel for its clean- 
liness, and yet it does not seem fair to judge Corsican inns, as some do, as 
if they were in Lombardy or Tuscany, constantly frequented by strangers. 
Take any part of Italy or France, away from the routine line of travellers, and 
you will find the inns hardly as good as those here. 

6 A.M. — The first work of to-day is to complete the drawings begun 
yesterday at the head of the port — rather a long task, as much accurate detail 
is necessary. It is not easy to realise that the sea is on the further side of 
the fortress as well as on this. The harbour is really beautiful at this hour, 
when everything is reflected in the water, and the Genoese tower, which 
commands a view far up the channel, stands picturesquely in the foreground. 

While I work there comes down the hill a large party of what G. calls 
fjueyakot avOpayrrot — great people — to wit, M. le Sous-prefet, Dr. Montepagano 
the Maire, with others of the local notables and clergy, and on their arrival 
at where I sit, introductions, with much lifting of hats, ensue. The mayor 
seems a particularly agreeable man, and the whole party give an impression 
of being well-bred and pleasant, nor did they long interrupt my labours ; 
every one offered to show me some portion of the city, or aid me in some way, 
but from the limited time at my disposal, I could only venture to name the 
convent of Sta. Trinita as a place I should like to visit, on account of its 
commanding a distant view of Bonifacio, and it was agreed that Dr. Monte- 
pagano should take me there at 2 P.M. 

The next thing was to procure a view from the side of the channel 
opposite the city, and to this end I began, with G., an examination of paths 

to land from Spain, Africa, and Sardinia, on this side of the island. Of the fortifications erected by the 
Marquis, the great old tower, called Torrione, is still standing. Three other towers besides are erected 
upon the rock ; Bonifacio carries them all in her armorial bearings. The town, as well as the island, 
subsequently came under the Pisans ; but the Genoese deprived them of Bonifacio as early as the year 
1193. A Bonifazine, Murzolaccio, wrote a separate history of his town in the year 1625 ; it was published 
at Bologna, and is extremely rare. The memorable siege of the town by Alfonso of Arragon, is related 
by Peter Cyrnseus. — Gregorovius, p. 432. 

The town of Bonifacio was founded towards the year 833 by Boniface, Count of Corsica. This town 
became a commune in the beginning of the eleventh century, and became subject to the republic of Pisa 
about the end of it. In 1 195 the Genoese took Bonifacio, and massacred its population. Early in the 
sixteenth century the town withstood Alfonso of Arragon in a remarkable siege. In 1553 it was taken 
by the Turks. — Grandchamps, p. 30. 

Bonifacio repulsed Alfonso, King of Arragon, and the Corsicans of Vincitello d'Istria in 1421. 
Later, in 1551, in the time of Sampiero, the Turks and French allied under Henry II., and, led by the 
famous Dragut, took the city by stratagem, after a long and memorable siege. . . In the suburbs of 
Bonifacio stands a long aqueduct, built by the Pisans, which furnishes water in abundance to that part of 
the city. — Gallett/, p. 163. 


and valleys in that direction, though the heat, and the contrast of the glaringly 
white soil with the dark vegetation, made the search as uncomfortable as at 
first it was profitless ; for, pursuing a line parallel to the inlet, we diverged at 
times towards the water, but as often got entangled among vineyards and 
walls ; till growing weary with climbing steep paths that led me no nearer 
to the point desired, and half blinded with the dazzling and hot white 
pathways, I was giving up the task. The Suliot, however, persevered, saying, 
" ivrpoirrj elvai va irafi oirlacd — it is a shame to go back," and left me to return 
in half an hour, having discovered a dell leading down to the water, where a 
ledge at the end of the rocks seemed to command a view of the other side 
of the channel. And so it turned out to be, though the path along the cliff 
edge was so narrow and precipitous, and so giddily overhanging the water, that 
even with assistance I could hardly manage to arrive at the required height. 

From this point there is a perfect view of this curious and interesting 
old Corsican city, and I know of no scene of the kind more strikingly 
beautiful. The exceedingly deep colour of the quiet narrow channel con- 
trasts wondrously with the pale hues of the rocks and buildings, and the 
strange lonely character of the fort, and of the projecting cliffs rising perpen- 
dicularly from the water's edge, and striped with long ledges of singular 
form, is most impressive. A solitary cormorant flitting by is the only sign 
of life, and a complete silence adds to the charm of this wild spot, so full 
of memories of the sufferings of the Bonifacio people. I would gladly linger 
some days to explore more fully the position of this historic mediaeval city, 
so unique in appearance and site. When the wind lashes this inland channel, 
how grandly the foaming waves must beat against the sides and hollows 
of these cliffs, wrinkled and worn by long buffeting ! (See Plate 9.) 

While I am drawing, the stillness is broken by two boats, which, from the dis- 
tant harbour come down the channel, those who are in them singing " O pescator 
dell' onde;'^ 1 ) at first the sound is feeble, but gradually swells into a loud 
chorus over the calm water and among the great caverns of the echoing cliffs. 
The boats steer for the cove near which I am sitting, and twenty individuals 
land on a ledge of rock just below me, where they place a barrel of wine and 
provisions, and prepare to pass the day. These are conscripts, chosen as 
soldiers only yesterday, and this their farewell fete before leaving their native 
Bonifacio, a place so peculiar in itself, and so remote from the outer world, that 
the attachment its inhabitants are said to bear towards it is easily understood. 

Leaving the cormorant perch or ledge, where I have made my drawing, I 
return to the town, and after a hot climb, first through the dells near the 
channel, choked with foliage, airless and stifling, and then by the blinding 
white stair-paths, reach Mdme. Carreghi's hotel before noon. 

( x ) The fishing-boats began to sail with their lights, and the fishermen to sing the beautiful fishing 
song, "O pescator dell' onde. " — Gr°gorm>ius, p. 134. 


Fresh red mullet, lobster (or rather crawfish), good fowl, and other dishes 
more numerous than necessary, were ample proof that the good people of the 
house were in earnest last night when they promised better fare ; and now that 
the rooms are less noisy and crowded, I look upon the inn as a very tolerable 
place of sojourn. The Widow Carreghi, like Fatima of Sartene, is also anxious 
to improve her house, though with very decidedly conservative opinions as to 
some of its shortcomings, for, to her inquiry, " Come credete che posso far 
meglio nostra povera casa ? — What do you think can be done to improve 
our poor house ? " I suggest a cleaning of the remarkably dirty entrance and 
stairs by way of a commencement. But to this Widow Carreghi gives a flat 
negative in the most positive manner, " Signore, qui non e mai uso di polir le 
scale ; le scale non si pulisce mai ! — Here, sir, it is never the custom to clean 
stairs ; stairs are never cleaned, never ! " So I was silent. 

At 2 comes Dr. Montepagano, and walks with me through a part of the 
town, showing me several points of interest, such as the house where the Emperor 
Charles V. lived in 15 10, a small abode, and very unimperial in appearance, 
and that in which Buonaparte resided in 1793. The worthy doctor had 
insisted, much against my will, that we should use the carriage of one of his 
friends, but when we arrived at the port, where the vehicle in question awaited 
us, it was found to carry only one besides the driver, whereon I had to send 
G. up to the town for Peter and my own trap ; and, until its arrival, the doctor 
and myself sat by a fountain close to the harbour, which is celebrated for the 
excellence of its water, discoursing on some peculiarities in the ornithology of 
the district. 

Then we drive up by the white cliffs and green hollow, down which I 
came yesterday on entering the town, and along the bald road, where stand 
the scanty wind-bent olives, till we come to the foot of the hills of La Trinita. 
A footpath leads to the great granite rocks, in a nook among which a small 
Franciscan monastery has now succeeded to the hermitage mentioned by 
Valery in 1835. The view from the convent garden is very remarkable, 
and as the day is clear, the north coast of Sardinia is perfectly seen in all its 
length and detail, in which there is much beauty, though, in some respects, it 
is rather disappointing, the height of the mountains beyond the straits being 
inconsiderable compared with those of Corsica, and the long line of hills 
seem wanting in grandeur. Now that I am acquainted with the position of 
Bonifacio, I perceive that from here its peculiar character cannot in the least 
be indicated, as the narrow arm or inlet of the sea is completely hidden by 
the higher ground on this side of it ; consequently, the city seems to stand on 
a part of the broad level on its western side, instead of rising, as it really does, 
from a rock platform, almost entirely surrounded by water. Nevertheless, 
this Santa Trinita view — the monastery itself has nothing picturesque to 
recommend it — is one very curious and impressive. You feel, as it were, at 


the end of the world, as you look at the far white fortress through the 
stems of the large olives growing among great boulders in the convent 
garden; beyond it is nothing but the wide sea, and the low line of Sardinia 
on the horizon. At 6 we drove back to the town.( l ) 

Dr. Montepagano, the Maire, says that two years ago there were two 
Englishmen here, one of them Mr. C, the name of the other he cannot remember, 
but will show me his photograph to-morrow. The Maire's acquaintance has 
been well worth making; he is a most friendly and well-informed gentleman. 

April 23. — At 6 A.M. an early visit from M. Trani, to whom I had brought 
an introductory letter from M. Merimee, but who was absent from the city 
yesterday. The Corsicans seem most anxious to show every attention to 
strangers, and I regretted that I could not see more of this gentleman, who 
was very agreeable, and who evidently entertained a warm recollection of my 
introducer. Dr. Montepagano also called and brought the promised photo- 
graph. Behold, it was of my friend J. B. H. ! I was not aware he had ever 
visited this island. 

At 7 I left Bonifacio and its kindly inhabitants, with more regret than 
is usually felt after so short a stay in any place. It is full of an indefinable 
romance and interest not shared by either Ajaccio or Sartene ; a kind of 
wild and solemn classic grandeur prevails about its lofty fortress walls and 
in the views from them, either towards the screens of steep rock rising from 
the deep and narrow channel, or seaward to the strange pale cliffs and the 
long line of Sardinian hills. The port scene is a little gem, and I feel 
sure that there are many more beauties in the narrow valley running eastward 
among the hills, and from the coast towards the lighthouse. ( 2 ) 

The peasantry about Bonifacio seem of a small stature, and not as 
well looking as those in other parts of Corsica ; among the women I did 
not see even one tolerably pretty face. All dress in dark brown. As a 

(*) The oratory of La Trinite, three miles from Bonifacio, and one mile from the port of Paraguano 
— presumed to be the site of the Palla — is worth a visit. — Valery, p. 253. 

(-) In the isles of San Bainzo, Cavallo, and Lavezzi, are old quarries of granite used by the Romans, 
and enormous remains of half-sculptured columns, &c, &c. Some interesting details are given of the 
remains of the works of antiquity in these islets. — Valery, p. 256. 

The isles of Cavallo, Lavezzi, and S. Bainzo, and many others, which form the archipelago of the 
Bouches de Bonifacio, make the passage very dangerous for vessels. These rocks have caused innumer- 
able disasters ; in 1855 the frigate "La Semillante," carrying troops and munitions for the army in the 
Crimea, was shipwrecked there, and no soul was saved. In these islets, and particularly in that of S. 
Bainzo, great columns and other blocks of granite hewn by the Romans may be seen ; traces left by fire 
on the virgin rock, too, are there, as well as charred wood about the forges which were used in these 
quarries. — Galletci, p. 167. 

The grottoes of St. Anthony, Saint Barthelemy, le Dragonale, their magnificent extent and stalactites, 
peopled with seals and pigeons, are described by Valery, pp. 249, 250 

[In Gregorovius the chapter about the siege of Bonifacio in 142 1, and, indeed, all he has written on 
the subject of Bonifacio, its histories, legends, and scenery, and of the great caves, which I did not 
visit, are most charming (pp. 327 to 456, &c. &c. ). — E.L.] 


set-off, the people of Bonifacio are said to be, as their character has been 
always represented, quiet and well conducted ; nor was the savage Vendetta 
ever known in the territory, which was, indeed, separated from all the rest 
of Corsica, not more by its isolated position than by the habits and circum- 
stances of its inhabitants. The race of donkeys, of which there seem to be 
many used, are the smallest I have seen in the island.^) 

The road to my next halting-place, Porto Vecchio, to which I set out 
at 7 A.M., is, for a short way, the same as that by which alone Bonifacio can 
be entered ; but it soon strikes off to the east, and, after passing through 
beautiful sheltered groves of rich olives, the white chalky soil is quitted, 
and once more the familiar granite rocks appear, interspersed with slopes 
of turf, cultivated undulations, and spaces gay Avith flowers — may or black- 
thorn in full bloom, and a wilderness of vegetation. The road does not 
run near the sea — once or twice only are there glimpses of it between heights 
clothed with high and dense "maquis"— but mostly along a rather flat vale 
or small plain, half covered with underwood and cork-trees, and lying 
between low granite hills on the left, and a similar but lower ridge on the 
right. And such is the route for nearly three hours, when, after a dip down 
to a small bay (the Gulf of Sta. Giulia), and a pull up on the opposite side, 
the valley of the Stabiaccia, the stream flowing into the Gulf of Porto 
Vecchio is reached. Hereabouts is the only bad bit of road encountered 
since leaving Ajaccio — a causeway in process of being raised across some 
marshy ground, and not as yet complete. ( 2 ) 

A good way ahead, the town of Porto Vecchio appears on a hill above the 
Gulf, in the midst of what is characteristic of all the surrounding country, 
excessively abundant vegetation ; in parts a regular jungle, with unhealthy 
looking marshes and pieces of water at intervals, in the neighbourhood of 

( 1 ) Near the road from Bonifacio to Porto Vecchio, by the hamlet of Sota, are the ruins of the Castle 
of Campana, ancient stronghold of the infamous tyrant, Ors' Alamanno. — Valery, p. 258. 

( 2 ) Porto Vecchio is a spacious haven, capable of containing a very large fleet. It is five miles long, 
above a mile and a half broad, has a great depth of water and a good bottom, and, being land-locked on 
every side, is well sheltered from storms. . . Porto Vecchio may vie with the most distinguished 
harbours in Europe. — Boswell, p. 20. 

Diodorus Siculus celebrates Corsica for the excellence of its harbours. " Avrrj Se rj u?]<ros evirpoaopixLaros 
ovcra, KaXXiarov ex et A.i/xej/a rhu bvojj.a^6jxevov 'Svpanovaiov — The island being of very easy access has a 
most beautiful port, called the Syracusian." This, anciently called the Syracusian, has now the name of 
Porto Vecchio. — Boswell, p. 19. 

Porto Vecchio, a calm and sheltered harbour, is one of those insalubrious and abandoned positions 
which may one day undergo the most vast changes. S. Florent on the side of France, Porto Vecchio 
on that of Italy, may become useful and magnificent stations. At present, this considerable town, which 
contains 1,700 inhabitants, is forsaken during the summer for the mountains. A thick vegetation of olives 
surrounds it. The salt works are susceptible of great improvement, for they are well situated, though 
not paved, and might be turned to good account. — Valery, p. 259. 

This little town on the east coast of the island is quite fallen from its earlier splendour. It is girt 
with walls, and appears from a distance to be an important town. Alas, what an illusion for the 
traveller who enters it ! — Galletti, p. 168. 

Porto Vecchio is a vast gulf, 3,000 metres long and as many broad,; and by improvement, its port, 



which small midges and loud frogs proclaim, even at this early season of the 
year, a dangerous atmosphere. But apart from its unhealthiness, the wildness 
of the scenery has a great charm, the more that towards the west, finely 
formed hills stand forth with a stern beauty, so that I could not resist sending 
on Peter and the trap, and stopping to draw till 1 1 A.M. Every shrub and 
thicket seems alive with the invisible nightingale, whose song 

''Fills the soul 
Of that waste place with joy." 

Porto Vecchio, about which T make an exploring ramble before entering 
it, is a place of forlorn appearance, with no little picturesqueness in its old 
gray walls and towers, but joined to a general look of decay, more agreeable 
to a painter's eye than indicative of the inhabitants' prosperity. Nor did the 
interior offer any greater signs of vitality — unfinished houses, heaps of stones, 
shattery wooden outer stairs and galleries, with much dirt and a large supply 
of idle loiterers. On one side of a small piazza is a row of somewhat better 
buildings, among which the "hotel" — kept by the widow Gianelli, an old woman 
like one of Michael Angelo's Fates — resembles some others I have seen in its 
very bad and dirty stair entrance, but also in its tolerably decent little apart- 
ments ; a small public salle a manger (the diligence from Bonifacio to Bastia 
stops here for refreshment), with sofas that do duty for beds, two small bed- 
rooms, by good luck unoccupied, and a sort of kitchen used by the family, 
complete the hotel arrangements ; but no part of it is as tidy or well-furnished 
as the inns of Grosseto or Sartene. 

While Madame Gianelli produces breakfast, M. Quenza, the Maire of 
Porto Vecchio, to whom I have forwarded a letter from M. Galloni d'Istria, 
comes to visit me — a genial and intelligent person, who offers me his com- 
pany, to show me some of the best points for making drawings of the town, 
and who talks of the great pine forests of Spedale, which M. Merimee had par- 
ticularly recommended me to visit ; they are within a few hours' drive, and a 
good road of the second-class, or route forestiere, leads to them, so that this 
fact begins to tempt me to remain a second day here for the sake of making 
the excursion. M. Quenza departs, and Mdme. Gianelli, bringing coffee in a 
tumbler, asks if I will dine at 5.30 with the " continentali ? " — " Tutti monshieu," 
is her expression — government employes here, the director of the telegraph, 

from every point of view, military or commercial, may become the finest in the Mediterranean. Its 
situation is magnificent ; the territories of the two basins which open out into it are of great fertility ; the 
port, vast and safe, is sheltered by the mountains which surround it. Of all the points of the island, it is 
that most adapted to the formation of a maritime arsenal. The marshes round the gulf, and the bad air 
which prevails during the summer, the choking of the harbour by sand, are all evils within the remedies 
of science and labour ; &c. Its great military importance and its commercial influence would extend 
from the Gulf of Santa Manza to Fiumorbo, for there is no port on the east side from Porto Vecchio to 
Bastia. — Grandchamps, pp. 34, 35. 

[Numerous details and plans are given in M. Grandchamps' book of the gulf and harbour of Porto 
Vecchio, a site which is spoken of as one admitting no doubt of its future greatness. — E. L.] 


the agent of salt works, &c. ; but I decline tying myself to return at a certain 
hour, for there may be work to do till sunset. 

Next follows a return visit to M. le Maire. M. Quenza lives in a large 
house, with an unpleasant entrance, and all but impossible stairs, landing 
you in a very large and lofty room altogether out of character with the 
approach to it. M. Quenza, however, was out, and finding only Madame, 
a baby, and the room very much in deshabille, I apologise, and retreat to a 
height outside this sad and ruinous-looking village — in better days a com- 
paratively flourishing town. Here, overlooking the flat shore and the salt 
pans at the foot of the hill, the calm gulf, and the generally unhealthy look 
of crowded vegetation characterising the neighbourhood, I make a drawing, 
until joined by M. Quenza, who has been delayed by having to preside as 
maire at a " civil marriage." Porto Vecchio must be a warm place during 
winter; sheltered from all cold westerly winds, its climate is vaunted, and I 
should think justly, as the warmest in Corsica ; the conditions which make it 
so unfit as a residence in summer, rendering it precisely the reverse in winter. 

The Maire takes me up to a knoll on the north-west side of the town, and 
there I pass most of the rest of the day, for it commands the best view of the 
town and gulf. (See Plate 10.) A tone of sadness broods over the scene, 
owing to the aged and forsaken look of the thinly-populated Porto Vecchio, 
and to the absence of dwellings round it ; but the quiet gulf, like a lake, nearly 
landlocked by the low hills, the beautiful colour and texture given to the 
landscape by its extensive cork forests and olive woods, communicate to this 
scenery a great charm of calm softness, and though possessed of no magni- 
ficence, it has great attractions for a painter through a certain mournful 
wildness and an air of antiquity. Somewhat it reminds me of Santa Maura, 
especially as to its extent of desolate flat ground near the saltworks by the sea. 

Later I passed an hour at the Maire's house, where I made the acquaintance 
of Madame Quenza, a ladylike and good-looking woman, and a small Quenza, 
a sharp little fellow, with Napoleonic eyes. I was shown a large collection 
of letters, written by the first Emperor Napoleon, and by General Paoli, to 
the great-grandfather of M. Quenza. Those of the former are on coarse paper 
and coarsely written, chiefly, I think, in the year 1794 or 1795. There is an 
orderly-book, too, with enough signatures of Buonaparte to make the fortune 
of an autograph seller ; heaps, and bundles too, of Paoli's correspondence, 
whether ever used or not as materials for his life I am ignorant. (') 

Lastly, as the sun set, I came again to the great rocks whence I had made 
my drawing, and sat in a world of gray silence. Thus far in my Corsican tour 
several things surprise me. First, the excellence of the roads ; secondly, the 

( l ) There are also very interesting old manuscripts in the possession of an old man of 80, M. Jean 
Baptiste Quenza, who in 1793 commanded the battalion of national Liamone volunteers, and under 
whom Buonaparte served as second captain. — Va r ery, p. 231. 

F 2 


sense of extreme security in town and country ; thirdly, the good breeding 
of the lower class of people, who are, without any exception, respectful and 
obliging, and always leave me undisturbed to my artistic devices ; fourthly, 
the decent accommodation and good fare at these small country inns, which 
are far better relatively to the larger or town hotels than I have known to be 
the case in other countries, Italy, Sicily, &c. All this I was unprepared for ; 
and I confess that Corsica, to which I came without any great interest, gives 
me daily a desire to see more of itself. 

Mdme. Gianelli, whose face would make a wonderful, if not beautiful study, 
sends in for supper some soup and " manzo," or boiled beef, capital fish (dentice), 
and lobster, a steak, with potatoes and salad, and broccio ; at many large 
Italian towns you would not fare better. 

M. Quenza tells me that there is literally no winter here ; and I believe 
that for purposes of study and climate, this half-dead verdant place might well 
serve for a painter's home through the winter. It might be wished, however, 
that the neglected and dirty state of the exterior of Porto Vecchio did not 
extend to the interior of its dwellings, as it undoubtedly does. 

I have decided to start at 5 to-mOrrow to the forests, and Madame Q. 
guarantees the early appearance of her husband. 

April 24. — At 5 A.M., Peter the coachman, trap and ponies, G. with folio, 
cloaks, and provision for the day, are ready; and presently M. Quenza joining 
me, also with a full basket, we start for the mountain, soon leaving the main 
road and passing through an extensive cork forest, around which the soft 
pleasant character of the Porto Vecchio scenery is very charming. These 
cork woods, too, are beautiful in colour and in the texture of their thickly 
clustering foliage, and from their deep red stems where the bark has been 
removed. M. Quenza tells me that he possesses 4,000 trees in this wood, 
each averaging a produce of ten sous annually. 

Reaching the foot of the hills, at present covered with mist, we now begin 
to ascend towards the forests, and the road, one of the second class, called in 
Corsica, Routes Forestieres, is henceforth carried, curving and winding with a 
steep ascent, up the face of the mountain ; and though it is a good one, yet it 
has no parapet, and the fact of seeing mules pulling up a cart, the wheels of 
which are not more than an inch from the precipice's edge, by no means makes 
me more at ease in the carriage, from which I dismount, and thenceforth walk. 
My companion, the Maire, is full of cheery fun, and stories innumerable. 
Presently we pass a wild and singular looking individual tending two or three 
goats, who waves his hand to M. Quenza with an air of lordly patronage, quite 
unlike the respectful obeisance I observe paid to him by other peasants. 
" But this poor fellow," says M. Quenza, " is a harmless lunatic, and his present 
delusion is that he is king of Sardinia, which explains his magnificent manner." 

April 24.] 



A short time since the poor fellow was persuaded of a far less agreeable fact, for 
he believed that he had swallowed two gendarmes, and that the only remedy 
for this mishap was to eat nothing, in order to starve the intruders, which reso- 
lution he rigidly adhered to, till his own life was nearly sacrificed. When all but 
gone, however, he exclaimed, "Ecco, tutti due son morti di fame! — both of them 
have died of hunger !" — and thereupon he resumed eating and work with joy. 

M. Quenza also tells many stories of the too-famous Colomba,^) who was 
his aunt by marriage ; she died only four years ago, and one of her sisters is 
still living. Among his anecdotes of that surprising female, he recounts 


that at one time the family who were in Vendetta with her own in their 
town Fozzano, wished to build a tower, which would have commanded 
that of their antagonists. Colomba, therefore, improvised a party of her own 
people, who sate down to play at cards on the ground opposite the tower, and 
when they were settled she went out and joined them, as if observing the 
game, always dancing and dandling her baby at the same time. But in the 
dress of the child she had concealed a loaded pistol, and, watching her oppor- 
tunity, suddenly shot one of the masons on the tower, replacing the pistol in 
the child's girdle under a shawl. The wildest confusion ensued ; but the card 
players had their hands full of cards, and their guns all lying by their sides, 
while Mdme. Colomba, with both hands, was pacifying the screaming child, so 

(') [This lady, mentioned by M. Valeryand others, was a celebrated leader in the Vendetta-wars at 
Fozzano, and is supposed to be the heroine of M. Merimee's beautiful tale of the same name. — E. L.] 


that the party seemed guiltless, and a false direction was given to suspicion. 
This feat Colomba is said to have performed on two more of the builders, till 
the raising of the tower was deferred sine die. 

M. Quenza says that there are pheasants on the eastern side of the island ; 
and, speaking of the immense multitude of blackbirds produced by the 
"maquis," he says that those of Sari (of Fiumorbo) are esteemed before all 
others on account of some peculiarity in their food^ 1 ) 

At 6.30 the mists begin to lift, but it is not a day for clearness of distance ; 
the road, now that we are fairly high on the mountain, winds along deep gullies, 
whence far-stretching ilex woods are seen on all sides ; a few cantonniers, or 
road menders, and now and then woodcutters, are met from time to time. 
Crags half lost in cloud, and pines growing as it were in air, or groups of ever- 
green oak, often tempted me to stop and draw, but I postponed doing so until 
the distance should be more distinct, now that on this lofty ascent all the Gulf 
of Porto Vecchio with Sardinia beyond was widening out at each zig-zag turn. 
We pass Spedale, a house inhabited by cantonniers, that has been long in sight, 
as well as a ruined chapel close to it, and some of the masses of rock and wood 
near here are wonderfully beautiful, yet the feeling that two or three hours' 
study is necessary to do them any justice in a drawing, besides the necessity of 
getting up to the top, prevents my lingering. At the twenty-first kilometre 
from Porto Vecchio the plateau, or summit of the mountain, is reached. 

Here there is a new world, one all of pines, and, to my thinking, a gloomy 
one, for just now the clouds are low on these lofty regions, and the vistas of 
gray stems towering up to masses of darker foliage seem rather monotonous 
than cheerful. 

A little onwards much of the ground is cleared, and in a bare space 
encircled by lofty trees, stands a large double dwelling, with gardens 
adjoining; here the families of two foresters or guardiani live, by one of whom 
I am taken a little distance off to see some of the largest pine-trees — 
giants of twenty-five metres in height and upwards. But these forests are 
on level ground, and command no distance of any sort, and, except on 
account of their magnitude, fail to interest me ; gladly would I exchange 
all the magnificent monotony of these tall straight mountain trees for one 
glimpse of the beautiful Pinus maritima bending over the rocks by the 
sea at Kakiskali or Mount Athos, which places, indeed, the poetical sighing 

( l ) One hundred thousand blackbirds are annually exported from Ajaccio alone. . . They sell 
there for three and four sous each. — Campbell. 

It is barbarous to destroy, for the mere luxury of the table, birds which make such fine musiclc ; 
surely their melody affords more enjoyment than what can be had from eating them. — Bonvell, 

p. 44. 

Sari (of Fiumorbo), a village standing well in sight, has but a population of 200. The ruins of two 
castles belonging to the rich and powerful Renuccio are near it. Near Sari you remark some traces of the 
Roman way — the only one discovered in Corsica — which, starting from Mariana, passed by Aleria, and 
ended in Palla. — Valery, p. 263. 


of these vast woods of Spedale in some measure recalls. And so I go to 
the guardiano's house, doubting if, after all, I shall get much drawing to-day, 
and glad meantime of a thick cloak, on account of the cold, and to attack M. 
Quenza's substantial breakfast and not unwelcome wine gourds. 

The only memorandum I could procure of this part of the mountain 
was by going a little later with the forester to a " massif," as they term 
the groups of trees, growing among great rocks on the plateau ; these are 
of great size, and stand up majestically against the mountain side. To the 
forester, a grim tall fellow, who watched the progress of my sketch, I offer 
one of my pencils, on the nature of which he made some remarks ; where- 
upon he only says, " There are enough in my house, but I will take it 
— ne ho basta in casa, ma lo prendo " — which was not gracious on the 
part of Don Guglielmo di Roccaserra, for so they called him ; then, leaving 
M. Quenza, who was tired, to follow in the carriage, I came away from 
the level recesses of the forest, and began to descend the mountain. At 
1.30 P.M., as I come down the zig-zags above the house named Spedale, the 
distance and Sardinia on the horizon are hidden by mist ; the groups of 
immense ilex, with pines and crags, are all shadeless — opposite the afternoon 
sun — so that in the end I walked down the mountain without getting another 
record of its scenery. As a pictorial gain, the excursion of to-day has 
certainly been a failure ; had I walked up alone, many effects of light and 
shade at different points in these beautiful woods could have been secured ; 
whereas, fearing to inconvenience M. Quenza by a succession of fidgety 
halts, I did nothing at all, beyond illustrating my theory that study is next 
to impossible if you join a companion. Nor have I felt very enthusiastic 
admiration during this my first visit to a Corsican forest ; perhaps others 
I may see will have finer qualities, and the day may be less cloudy and 
cold. At 4.30, M. Quenza, who does not appear fully to understand my 
mania for walking, picks me up ; we drive across the cork woods, golden in 
the afternoon sun, and reach Porto Vecchio by 6 P.M. 

A visit to the Maire's house closed the day's work. The sharp-eyed small 
Quenza, a little fellow not six years old, exhibits a curiously retentive memory, 
and should turn out a naturalist, for he knew the name of every animal depicted 
in Buffon, though showing most partiality for the monkey tribe. Every one of 
those apes, which nearly half a century ago I used to copy so carefully from 
the well-known volumes at home, this little man knew at sight, shouting out, 
" c'est le Talapoin," "c'est le Carcajou," &c. These would be pleasant people 
to know, should one ever take a fit of wintering in Corsica, and make Porto 
Vecchio head-quarters. I am told, too, that the country round is so famed for 
the variety of its entomology, especially of Lepidoptera, that many naturalists 
from France and Germany pass some time here on that account, and that one 
of these, a M. Rcvcillicr, whose acquaintance I was sorry not to have had the 


pleasure of making, has resided here for several years ; moreover, two diligences 
to and from Ajaccio pass in every twenty-four hours, so one would not be quite 
shut out from the outer world. 

After dinner at the hotel, supplied as usual with that wish to oblige which 
I begin to recognise as an eminent Corsican trait, the friendly M. Quenza 
comes, bringing me a lot of pine-cones which I had asked for, and a letter to 
one of his relatives at Quenza,^) in case I should go there, that being the name 
of the village high up towards the plain of Coscione, near Mount Incudine, to 
which the whole population of Porto Vecchio migrate in summer. During the 
vintage they come to and fro, but as a rule, the town is entirely deserted after 
the end of May until November. ( 2 ) 

To-day I am grieved to have worked so little ; possibly I may see finer 
forest scenery in Corsica, but hardly any that can look down on so fair a scene 
of sea and distance as is commanded by the south-eastern side of the moun- 
tain I ascended, towards the wooded plain, the old town of Porto Vecchio and 
its olives, the gulf, and the Island of Sardinia beyond. Some of the groups of 
rock and foliage, too, were striking and beautiful, and yet I have not found it 
possible to bring away more than a few jottings. 

April 25. — Either Solenzaro, or Ghisonaccio, or Migliacciara, is to be my 
halting place for to-night, but it is not easy to decide this question beforehand, 
or to obtain very clear information as to the distances ; from what I gather it 
may be forty kilometres to the first named place, and some twenty beyond to 
either of the others. 

Leaving forlorn Porto Vecchio at 6 A.M., the road on the eastern side of 
the island runs a good way inland, and seldom approaches the sea. The 
scenery partakes of the grave character of Corsican landscape ; yet in this 
district I observe some qualities not noticed hitherto, owing to the mists 
which seem to linger about these wooded regions, and over the low grounds 
near the gulf. For a time, in passing through the cork wood, the varied 

(*) Quenza is the most loftily situated village in Corsica ; it is of old date, very healthy, and contains 
only 200 inhabitants. The vine cannot grow there ; the water is fresh, abundant, and exquisite. Quenza 
is principally composed of country houses, occupied only in summer, and badly kept enough, confirming 
the Corsican proverb, " Che due case tiene una ne piove — who has two houses will find the rain come 
in to one of them." The old church of the village, where mass is celebrated only once a year, was 
built a. d. 1000 by the Pisans. — Valery, i. , p. 217. 

( 2 ) Coscione, a plateau of vast extent of turf or pasturage, is the best in Corsica, and one of the most 
beautiful in the world. Watered by limpid fountains, and traversed by delightful streamlets, the 
Coscione becomes during summer the resort of all the inhabitants of Quenza and its neighbourhood. 
The Coscione is then alive with a multitude of horses and cattle ; the latter, small, lean, active, and 
almost wild, gallop about it like horses. Speaking of the want of cattle-sheds or stables in this part of 
Corsica, which are much needed, it occurred once" that a skilful agriculturist, sent by the munificence of M. 
Pozzo di Borgo to the island, said to the peasants, "Why do you not get rid of the stones in your 
fields, and use them in making little sheds for your cattle?" " Do you take us for ambassadors ?" was 
the contemptuous reply of these enemies of rational progress. — Valery, i., p. 219. 


line of the gulf hills gives the landscape great interest ; the lovely morning 
light falling on the dark red and silvery-gray cork stems, and the change- 
fully clouded mountains inland are full of beauty ; while, on the right, 
gleams of bright water are seen through rich undulations of wild green 

At 7, low hills shut out the gulf, " maquis " and cork woods are on 
each side, and on the left an amphitheatre of far mountains, all soberly 
green, with a world of detached granite masses. Two or three sets of 
wayside houses enliven the scene, some plots of corn, some goats, and a 
few people. 

The torrent dell' Oso is passed, a trivial stream at present, but two long 
bridges over which the road is carried show that water is not always so 
scarce as now. And a sort of feverish chill appears to me to prevail in 
these low marshy tracts, however lovely to look at the jungle or underwood 
hereabouts may be, so rich in variety of vegetation — laurustinum and arbutus, 
wild olive and sloe-tree, hawthorn, hemlock, bramble and bryony, ilex and 
cork, myrtle, broom, high heath, clematis, cystus, and reeds, with here and 
there a fine pine glittering with a silvery dotting of Processionary Bombyx 
sacs. (See Notes at the end of the Volume.) And only where there is a 
break in this wilderness, or where a carpet of red and white cystus occurs, 
does the pale asphodel peep above this many-foliaged confusion. Long 
tracts of such vegetation succeed each other with little change as we drive 
along a level road ; and there is little to be done except drowsily writing 
up notes, while Peter the coachman hums faintly, like a drowning fly. 

Wondrous to say, at 7.30 A.M., there is a roadside village, perhaps con- 
taining twenty houses : it is Santa Lucia di Porta Vecchio ; beyond it the 
road crosses a clear and pretty river of the same name, flowing to the sea 
near the Gulf of Pinarello ; and then we relapse into cork and " maquis," 
" maquis " and cork. 

After 8 o'clock there is more variety in the drive, nearing the sea by the 
tower and Punto della Fautea ; after passing which, and another stream 
and good bridge, the road becomes a cornice, running above the shore, where 
the exquisite vegetation is delightful — the superb yellow hemlock, brown 
and purple lavender, rose and white cystus, in gorgeous masses of colour, 
wild olive draped with festoons of wild vine, and now and then patches of 
blue flax, and silver spots of tall white amaryllis. The sameness of these 

0) Gregorovius, who traversed this district in summer, says : — On the whole journey I met not a 
living creature ; not a single hamlet is passed, and only here and there a village is seen afar off on the 
mountains. There only stand solitary abandoned houses on the sea shore, at such points as possess a 
small seaport, a cala. or landing-place, such as Porto Favone, the place to which the old Roman road 
led, Fautea, Cala di Tarco, Cala di Canelle, &c. . . Here also stand Genoese watch-towers. 
All these houses were abandoned, and their windows and doors shut ; for the air is bad along the whole 
coast. . . It is a strada morta. — Gre^orovnts, p. 459. 


parts of the coast of Corsica is atoned for by such banks and dells, full of 
blazing colour, and crowded with warbling birds, besides an occasional 
hoopoe, or bee-eater. Nowhere do I remember to have seen such slopes 
of splendid tints, so complete and lively a clothing of flowers. At 9 the 
Tarco is crossed by a three-arched bridge, and, beyond that, the loftier 
summits of the southern portion of the great snowy mountains, or central 
chain, begin to be seen.( l ) 

All at once (9.30) a pretty little bay — the Porto Favone — opens, and is 
irresistible to the landscape painter, who halts to draw it. The compact Cala 
or Marina is a perfect picture, its background the mountain range near the 
Incudine, towering high above the velvet "maquis "-covered hills, and clear as 
glass ; its foreground a few small houses edging the white sandy shore, drawn 
up on which are two or three boats, and beyond them a river and its bridge. 
A dozen or so of goats, and one or two raging dogs, are all the life vouchsafed 
to this spot, besides an ancient and crusty Corsican, who proclaims from an 
upper window to the inquiring Peter, that these dwellings contain no barley 
or horse food of any sort. Peter the coachman has been given of late to 
disagreeable ways ; almost mute for the first days of this tour, he has latterly 
taken to swear at his horses with a frightful volubility and a selection of 
oaths which denote, if nothing else, an inventive imagination of great power ; 
this habit, and that of beating the animals on their heads, I object to and 
rebuke, and for the time the evil is stopped. 

After passing along more cornice road and wild gardens, it is 11.30 before 
Solenzaro appears ahead on the coast, and we reach it at noon, the last part 
of the way being along hill-sides covered with vineyards ; it is a village 
consisting of one long straggling street, with some outlying, large, tall- 
chimneyed buildings, a French metallurgic establishment, and a good many 
more extensive dwellings or warehouses, and on the whole presenting a more 
general appearance of life than Corsican villages are wont to display. 

I am directed to a poor little house as the best hotel, kept, according to 
what seems frequent custom in Corsica, by yet another widow — la Vedova 
Orsola. But, although I may have the pleasure of inhabiting her house on 
my return here two days hence, it is not requisite to do so now, as I have 
prudently provided breakfast at Porto Vecchio, and there is nothing to be done 
at Solenzaro but to rest the horses and become acquainted with the distances 
and halting places of the onward road ; for I am anxious, if possible, to get 

(*) On the coast are many picturesque forsaken towers ; one is, at the little port of Favone, looked 
down on by high mountains. These towers on the coasts of Corsica, some fifty in all, were built in the 
sixteenth century by the Genoese, at the request of the inhabitants, who, as subjects of the republic, were 
exposed to ravages from the barbarous nations with whom Genoa was at war. The garrison of each 
tower ordinarily consisted of three soldiers, a corporal, and a guardian or governor. At the approach of 
an enemy's boat, they lit a fire, which, seen and repeated by the guardians of all the neighbour-towers, 
alarmed the whole coast of the island, and allowed time to prepare for defence. — Valery i i., p. 261. 


to Casabianda and to see the site of Aleria, the ancient colony of Sylla, in this 
trip ; because, should I be prevented from going there till late in my stay in 
the island, the eastern plain is said to be then so rife with malaria that one 
risks fever by sleeping in it. If, therefore, I can manage to accomplish this 
now, I may return here and cross the forests of Bavella, according to M. Vico's 
itinerary, and so rejoin the road to Ajaccio at Sartene. 

What information I require is soon gained from a party who are sitting at 
breakfast at the door of a house opposite, magnificently labelled, and with a 
prophetic boldness, " Hotel de Chemin de Fer." All these persons very good- 
naturedly volunteer particulars about the road, especially one, Signor Poli, 
who says Migliacciara is sixteen kilometres from this place, that it stands a 
little way off the main Bastia road upon that leading to the baths at Pie- 
trapola, and that I shall find a good inn there ; that Casabianda, the great 
Penitencier Agricole, is sixteen kilometres farther beyond Migliacciara, and 
close to Aleria ; and that from Solenzaro — to which I must of necessity return 
— it is thirty kilometres to the top of the Bavella pass, and the village of Zonza 
again is eighteen other kilometres beyond it. Just then there comes up another 
" continental," who says M. Vico, the Sous-inspecteur of Forests, has written 
to him to say I am on my way here ; this gentleman is M. Mathieu, the agent 
or head manager connected with part of the great Bavella forests, and he tells 
me that he is shortly about to go there himself, and that meantime he has 
directed the guardiano at the Casa Forestiere to house and feed me, " for you 
may get some bread," he says, " and possibly some potatoes." All this is 
very obliging, and it seems I can have but little trouble throughout ; on which 
I thank my informants, and leave them to their breakfast. 

Some spot at hand, combining two qualifications, is now to be sought — 
namely, first, quiet ; secondly, some scenery to draw during the mid-day halt — 
for in or near such wayside houses as there appear to be in this village, where 
noise and dirt are plentiful, it is by no means agreeable to eat if one can avoid 
doing so, and it is a great thing if a sketch can be combined with a two hours' 
stay at some picturesque resting-place. G., however, has already found a place, 
to which the Coliseum-sack is taken, where, on turning round the point of a 
low hill, just beyond the village, a beautiful picture is seen ; a little chapel, 
which stands, backed by a group of pines, on the banks of a wide stream, 
with the snow heights near the grand Monte Incudine above, and all the middle 
distance of the scene composed of those deep green " maquis "-clothed velvety 
hills, the delight of Corsican landscape. At this river side also nightingales 
abound in incredible numbers, and their exquisite music fills the air. 

The halt of this morning is thus in every way a pleasure, and no slight 
additional satisfaction is it to recall what one has seen in the earlier part of the 
day, which, after the cork woods and " maquis " had been left behind, was a 
wonder and a delight from hour to hour — a border of glorious flowers by the 

7 6 


[April 25. 

still blue seaside. Now, all at once, the landscape has become noble and 
majestic, and I cannot help feeling, even after seeing so little as I yet have of 
this island, that it would be an endless field of study to a painter resident in it. 
Afterwards I draw upon the bridge above the river, whence the stream and 
its picturesque banks, with the lofty shadowy mountains, make a beautiful 
scene, till it is time to send back G. for Peter and the trap. Peter has applied 
again here for money for the horses ; but it seems that for every advance he 
gives them less barley and more beating, and it is dimly becoming a sort of 
fixed idea with me that Miss C. was right, and that I had better have hired 
her man and horses, even at a greater expense. 


At 4 P.M., once more onward along the high road, meeting, soon after 
starting, the Bastia diligence which is to reach Bonifacio to-morrow morning, 
and Ajaccio on the succeeding day at noon — a dreary penance of shut-up 
shaking I am thankful to have escaped. The high central mountains, as seen 
from this eastern side of Corsica, stand far away beyond a wide plain, and 
their bases are hidden by low hills ; yet, as a snowy range, they are truly a 
splendid sight ; and the change from the spiky promontories of the west coast, 
the ins and outs, and curves and corners of the sea wall, or the close vales 
of " maquis " shut out from all distance, to this broad landscape, is most 
marked and delightful. 

Give me the beauty and glory of open plains, with a distance of hill or 
sea! Here they are both; and yet the lines of this mountain wall are not 

April 25.] 



easy to draw, and rather require a morning light ; 
nor are the undulations of rich dwarf foliage, thus 
crested by snowy Alpine heights, without their 
difficulties. The wide level of unvaried rich 
green which stretches from the shore to the very 
foot of these heights is something the like of 
which I have never before seen, nor have I met 
with any representation of it. Nearly at 5 the 
river Travo( l ) is passed by a long and fine 
bridge, and looking up this broad and beautiful 
stream, the landscape is wonderfully fine, but 
time does not allow of stopping to draw it. At 
the fiftieth kilometre from Porto Vecchio the 
plain is really unique in beauty, and more re- 
sembling some parts of Thessaly than any place 
I can compare it to, but that Thessaly wants the 
deep full green of the Corsic?n "maquis" clothing. 
A few roadside houses grouped together near 
the river Travo are all the habitations seen on 
this extended campagna, till after passing another 
bridge (Ponte Palo or Londano ?) over the Vabo- 

( ] ) We crossed the river Travo. From thence commences 
the series of lagoons, beginning with the long narrow Stagno di 
Palo ; there are in succession the Stagno di Graduggini, the 
lagoon of Urbino, of Siglione, del Sale, and the fine one of 
Diana, which has retained its name from the Roman times. 
Sandbanks separate these fish-swarming lagoons from the sea, 
but most have an entrance. Their fish are celebrated ; eels, &c. 

Far northwards from the Travo extends the most glorious 
pianura, which is the Fiumorbo or Canton Prunelli. Crossed 
by rivers, and bounded by the lagoons and the sea, it resembles, 
as seen from the distance, an endless luxuriant garden by ttie 
sea-shore. There is room here for at least two populous towns 
of 50,000 inhabitants, but there is hardly the scantiest arable 
land to be discovered, only boundless plains covered by ferns. 
Colonies of industrious cultivators and artisans would convert 
the whole district into a garden ; canals would destroy the 

morasses, and make the air healthy The climate is 

more sunny and milder than that of southern Tuscany ; it would 
bear even the sugar-cane, and corn would yield a hundredfold. 

The entire west of the island is a continuous formation of 
parallel valleys ; the mountain chains there descend into the sea, 
ending in capes, and encircling the magnificent gulfs. The 
east has not this prominent valley formation, and the land sinks 
down into levels. The west of Corsica is romantic, picturesque, 
and grand ; the east gentle, monotonous, melancholy. The eye 
here roves over plains many miles in extent, seeking for villages, 
men, and life, and discovers nothing but heaths, with wild shrubs, 
and morasses and lagoons expending along the sea, and filling 
the land with melancholy. — Gregorovius, p. 459. 

> I 


1 1 


lesco, a broad and clear river, we reached the road to Pietrapola at 6.30. Before 
this, the dark green verdure of the plain had given way to plains of asphodel 
and half cultivated tracts of ground, latterly to fields of corn, and as the sun 
goes down behind the long western mountain wall, Peter drives up to a single 
large dwelling by the roadside, and says, " Ecco 1' Hotel di Migliacciara.'^ 1 ) 

The hotel, indeed (built originally, I imagine, by the French Agricultural 
Company mentioned by Valery), is in itself the whole of the village of Migli- 
acciara, excepting a large group of farm-like buildings on the opposite site of 
the road, the whole appearing what in the Roman campagna one would call 
a tenuta. And at this season and hour the position of this place seems 
delightful, when the scent of the hawthorn, the song of the nightingale, the 
voices of sheep and cattle, the greenness of the country round, and the grandeur 
of the mountain range, but a short distance away, all seem to fill it with 
rural charms — it is hard to believe that in a month or two hence the whole 
district becomes pestilential. 

The interior of the so-called "hotel," is unlike any I have yet seen in 
Corsica ; the large building has rambling corridors and chambers, like those 
in many a wayside inn in the Neapolitan states of old days, or those of anti- 
Italian-Rome of these, and I was surprised as well as glad to secure a lofty 
and quiet apartment. Presently the Bastia diligence arrived ; supper or dinner 
was suddenly announced, and the company — to wit, the conductor and one 
passenger, myself and servant — sat down to a meal, of which it may be said 
that better as well as worse might be essayed. 

The conductor, who is a "continental," and was a soldier in the Crimea, 
speaks highly of the baths of Pietrapola not far from here, and says that 
rheumatic complaints are completely removed by the use of their waters. He 
himself, he adds, after the Russian war, had rheumatic fever to a degree that 
lost him the use of both his arms, until, through the means of the Pietrapola 
hot baths, he was restored to health. 

It would be pleasant to see these baths of Pietrapola ; they are in a neigh- 
bouring valley ; and perhaps after Aleria has been visited, time may yet allow 
of my reaching them.( 2 ) 

( J ) The Migliacciara, a vast domain of ten square leagues, in the best soil of Fiumorbo, or even 
of all Corsica, which stretches from the shore to the mountains, and through which passed the old 
way, belonged formerly to the Fieschi family of Genoa. — Valery, i., p. 266. 

( 2 ) The Baths of Pietrapola, in a rural nook in the midst of high mountains, have but few houses ; 
at present they are like a camp for invalids, who run to and from their tents in nightcaps, bare-legged, 
and wrapped up in cloaks or blankets. The mineral waters of Corsica are not like many of those 
on the Continent, slow and uncertain in their effects ; their season is very short, but their effect is 
speedy. One might say that their waters partake of the decided and powerful character of the in- 
habitants. The heat of the baths of Pietrapola equals that of the waters of Tunis, and is forty-six 
degrees at the source. Their efficacy has been recognised by medical men, both Italian and French, 
who have analysed them, and from the sixteenth century they have been resorted to for maladies of the 
nerves, head, and ears ; in our day they are regarded as most useful in chronic complaints, paralysis, 
rheumatism, and cutaneous diseases. — Valery, i., p. 269. 

April 26.] SET OUT FOR ALERIA. 79 


Set out for Aleria — Pass the Fiumorbo River — Beauty of Wide Plains at early Morning — Hamlet of 
Ghisonaccio — Cultivation of the Plain round the Site of Aleria — The Penitencier of Casabianda — 
M. Benielli — Position of ancient Aleria ; its magnificent Prospect — The Tavignano and distant 
Mountain Range — Hospitable Reception at Casabianda — Walk towards the Baths of Pietrapola, 
and Return to Migliacciara — The Bastia Diligence and Supper — Leave Migliacciara — The River 
Travo — Beautiful Effects of Light and Shade on the Plains of Fiumorbo — Return to Solenzaro — 
Widow Orsola's Hotel — Leave Solenzaro for the Mountains — Grand Scenery of the Pass to the 
Forests of Bavella — Steep Ascent — Immense Hewn Pine Trunks — Rocca Pinsuta — Peter the 
Coachman — Reach the Bocca di Larone — Magnificent Amphitheatre of Crags and Forest — Descent 
to the Forest of Bavella — Thunderstorm and Rain — Difficulty of Ascent to the Maison dell' Alza — 
Peter the Passionate — Pleasant Reception by M. Mathieu — A Day in Bavella — Glories of the 
Forest — Leave the Maison dell' Alza — Splendour of the Great Pine Woods and Crags — Descent 
from Bavella to the Village of Zonza — Pass through San Gavino and Levie — Arrive at Santa Lucia 
di Tallano — Hotel, and Visit from Don G. Giacomone — Dr. Bennet, of Mentone — Churches and 
Convents of Santa Lucia di Tallano — Hospitable Breakfast at Don G. Giacomone's — His Family 
and House — Wines of Tallano — Leave Santa Lucia, and descend to the Valley of the Tavaria — 
Return to Sartene — Peter's Homily upon Patience — Fatima's Polished Floors — Her Confidences 
and Misfortunes — View of Sartene from above the Town — Return by Propriano to Olmeto — Visit 
to Mr. B. — -Walk to Casalabriva— Meet Miss C. — Scenery of the Taravo — Cippo the Goat — 
Return to Grosseto. 

April 26. — At 5.30 A.M. I start for Aleria ; the more delay in going there, the 
greater risk of fever; so once more I am on the Bastia road. How like is 
this to the old days of Roman campagna life, its early hours, the fresh air, 
and the outspread plain and distant mountains ! To me this is the most 
delightful of Corsican scenery ; perhaps, indeed, partly from old associations ; 
and none the less so that it is unexpectedly beautiful. The river Fiumorbo,^) 
which gives its name to the canton, is soon passed, and at 6 Ghisonaccio is 
reached — a sprinkling of tall houses by the road-side, many of them unfinished, 
all ugly and forlorn to look at — children abound, mingled with pigs, and men 
sit in idleness on the walls and door-steps. Nor does any one take notice of 

( ] ) The Fiumorbo district owes its name to the torrent, which, shut in by mountains, rolls on as if 
by chance, till its uncertain course ends in the sea, and thus it has been poetically named the blind river. 
This part of Corsica, so wild in appearance, was formerly not less so as to the manners of its peasantry, 
who were proverbial for the grossness of their habits, their superstitions, their independence, and their 
obstinate opposition to all improvement. The following was related to me as the speech of a cure of 
Poggio di Nazza, on his first arrival at the parish church. " I know," said he, to the peasants, "that 
you are bad Christians, and that you care little for your priests ; but I have brought with me what may 
be strong arguments in favour of the three persons you ought to believe in. This (said he, placing his 
gun against the wall) is my Padre Santo ; this (laying his pistol on the altar) is the Figlio ; and, if these 
are not enough, this (drawing a dagger) is the Spirito Santo." This novel illustration of the Trinity 
was so convincing to his parishioners, that they lived always on the best terms with their cure. But this 
was in past times, and for twenty years the Fiumorbo has been completely civilised. — Valery, i., p. 271. 

Near the bridge is Ghisonaccie, peopled by inhabitants of Ghisoni (a large village in the mountains), 
who, being compelled to gather their harvests in this part, have built houses, that have gradually grown 
into a village, recently made a commune. — Galletti, p. 172. 


the passers-by, except one man, who, holding a live hare, says, " Achetez, 
M'sieu ?" Ghisonaccio is not a prepossessing place. Just beyond it, on the 
left of the road, is a tomb of classical shape, in memory of an overseer of road- 
works, murdered here some years back. On the right the plain is lost in 
marsh and great etangs or salt pools, while towards the snowy mountains it 
seems one immense green carpet of fern and lentisk up to their very base, 
varied only in a few places by lines of purple or almost of black, marking the 
place where the " maquis " has been burned. And as clouds are rising, I fear 
to lose my mountain outline, and devote some time to a drawing of these wild 
fern plains and green levels. Peter the coachman about this time, I being 
on foot, and he somewhat ahead, gets himself into disgrace, by reason of 
beating one of his horses unmercifully when it stumbled, I and my man being 
unable to prevent him, far less to moderate the astonishing current of oaths 
with which, in these paroxysms of fury, he accompanies his blows. But on 
overtaking him, I tell him that patience may have an end, and that if he 
persists in disorderly behaviour, I will telegraph to Ajaccio for a new coach- 
man, and leave him here. Whereon he says, " Una cosa certa e che l'uomo 
deve sempre aver pazienza ; quest' e una delle prime regole della vita, 
—one thing is certain, that a man should always be patient ; and this, indeed, 
is one of the first rules of life !" 

The plain becomes much more undulating as Casabianda is approached, 
it stands on high ground, not far from the site of ancient Aleria — both 
places overlooking the Tavignano and the whole eastern plain, and consists 
in a group of large new buildings, not over picturesque, notwithstanding 
that at a distance it has something of the air of Castel Guibilei, or similar 
places on the Roman campagna. In the vicinity of this important estab- 
lishment, fern, myrtle, and cystus disappear, and give way to corn, lupines, 
and other vegetables more useful if not so poetical ; labour takes the place 
of neglect ; and, instead of a green desert, there is flourishing cultivation. 
Carts and cattle are met, and groups of the convicts (of which there are 
about a thousand in the Penitencier) going out to work. A road strikes 
off on the right to the reclaimed ground, near the great marshes now under- 
going drainage, close to the sea, and to the left it is continued to the principal 
buildings of the establishment, which I reach at 9.^) 

Fortunately for me (for, not having expected to come here when I left 
Ajaccio, I had had no note or recommendation from M. Galloni d'Istria), 
M. Benielli, the young clerk who, at Bonifacio, had volunteered to show me 

(') The plain of Aleria, nearly thirty leagues long by three or four in breadth, and one of the 
most fertile in the world, might produce food for more than 100,000 inhabitants. Its soft climate, 
where winter is unknown, would permit even tropical plants to be cultivated. This superb plain along 
the sea-shore is bordered with high mountains, and varied by light undulations which preserve it from 
the dull uniformity of many plains. On seeing it, its characteristics impress you at once as those 
peculiar to the site of an ancient and powerful city. — Valery, p. 278. 

April 26.] ANCIENT ALERIA. 8 I 

the lions of Aleria, happened to be at that moment at the entrance of the 
open space before the prisons, otherwise I could have made but little progress, 
owing to the sentinels and gendarmes, who naturally are on all sides in a 
place devoted to convict labour. M. Benielli greeted me heartily, and offered, 
conjointly with several other young employes, to show me all over Aleria. 
I was to see the new drainage, the prisons, the remains — here of a wall, 
• there of an amphitheatre; in a word, nothing was to be left unseen. My 
object, however, being to procure one or two good views of the place, and 
to avoid giving up much time to what was not of immediate interest to 
my topographical work, I had little inclination to take long walks in the 
heat of the day; and, moreover, I had already discerned the point from 
which the plain of the Tavignano must be best represented. It requires 
all a man's available tact and politeness to intimate to fourteen or fifteen 
amiable individuals,, without giving them offence, that you do not want their 
company, and would far rather be alone ; but it is necessary for me to choose 
on the one hand between companionship and time lost, and the chance of 
making a good drawing on the other. 

" Let us alone ; time driveth onward fast, 
And in a little while our lips are dumb," 

and our hands useless ; so I beg my new acquaintances to allow me to go my 
own way, to which they most good-naturedly assent, being only hospitably 
obstinate on the point of my returning to breakfast with them at II. 
Then, having accepted the offer of an obliging M. Liberati (who was on 
the point of going to the fort and village of Aleria) to show me a short 
cut across some fields towards the site of the old city, I set off, not without 
fear that the clouds, which are rapidly covering the snowy range, may prevent 
my getting their outline.( l ) 

(*) The ruins of Aleria are the only ruins of Roman times in Corsica, besides those of Mariana. 
The few and detached remains consist in portions of a prsetorial building — a sort of circus — some 
traces of the walls, &c. The salt lake of Diana, blocked up by sand, appears to have served as a port 
to Aleria, as indeed the large iron rings fixed on its edge still indicate. In our day it is noted for its 
oysters, of extraordinary size and exquisite flavour. So late as the end of the thirteenth century, 
Aleria was not entirely destroyed, for the bishop of the see resided there, as well as the family of 
Catinco, one of the most powerful of the island. — Valery, L, p. 277. 

The city of Aleria was built on an elevation, which on the north side rises to a height of over 
fifty metres above the level of the ground, and which slopes gradually towards the east. To the south- 
west it presents an undulating surface, and displays to the traveller who stands among its ruins one of 
the most imposing and magnificent panoramas. The beautiful prospect includes an immense and fertile, 
but little cultivated plain ; a large and deep river whose crystal waters rise in the high mountains of 
Niolo, and winding below the site of Aleria, fall into the sea exactly opposite the mouth of the Tiber ; 
a great expanse of blue sea, that on its further side breaks on the shores of the Roman campagna, and 
against the great ruins of the cities of Ostia, Porto, and Nettuno, which seem to send back to these 
silent plains of Aleria the echo of their decay.— Galletti, p. 174. 

The port of Aleria was formed by an arm of the sea, which in our day comes up to half a league 
from its ruins. Near the mouth of this port is a charmingly picturesque islet, several metres high above 
the level of the water, and in various parts of it are the remains of a wall which served as a quay. Fur- 
ther on, at the spot called Santa Agata, are ruins of a wall, in which portions of iron are fixed, and jars 



It was at Aleria that Theodore, afterwards king of Corsica, first landed a 

character so remarkable, that I subjoin some account of his most romantic 
life, extracted from Boswell and Gregorovius, in both of whose writings will 
be found much interesting information on the subject, one intimately con- 
nected with the history of Corsicans during their rebellion against Genoa in 
the early part of the last century.( ! ) 

Several pieces of Roman brickwork, clearly denoting the antiquity of 
the spot, are scattered about the bluff or headland to which I went, and 
which may have been an outpost or fort of the old Roman colony, or even 
the citadel of Sylla's city, the site of which is evidently well chosen, and 
commanding a very glorious view on all sides — northward, along the flat 
plain which melts into the horizon near Cervione ; westward, towards Monte 
Rotondo, the gorge of the Tavignano, and the course of that river to the 
foot of the Alerian hills ; eastward, over the plain, and the broad marshes, 
and salt lakes, or etangs, to the sea ; and, southward, to the whole chain 
of snowy heights, from Mont Renoso to Mont Incudine, with its remarkable 
outline, and the hills which at Solenzaro close the view in that direction. 
The long line of white snow against the blue sky is not unlike that of the 
Alps as seen from Turin ; and, while I remained on this eminence, I wished 
to make another drawing, combining the buildings of Casabianda with 
the mountain wall beyond the plain ; but clouds gradually blot out all 
their forms, and finally oblige me to give up the attempt. While I am 
drawing, G. brings me two specimens of the Mygale, or trap-spider, so 
common in Corfu, called there the KepaXdfua, and apparently abundant 

are in some places built into it. The waters of Diana (which produce excellent oysters) occupy a space 
of 570 metres, and their depth is ten or eleven. With small expense, the lagoon of Diana might be made 
one of the finest ports, as well as one of the safest in the Mediterranean. — Galletti, p. 15. 

Aleria seems to have been an unlucky spot for many of its visitors ; poor M. Valery became 
suddenly blind there, and Gregorovius's experience, on reaching it, was far from agreeable ; for, in spite 
of " sniffing at camphor," he ran great risk of illness from being unable to procure any shelter. This 
is his description of the vicinity of the fort of Aleria, to which at length he was admitted. " The 
scenery around seemed to me truly Sullanic ; a night as still as the grave ; a barren plain full of feverish 
air at our feet ; dark, night-shrouded mountains behind the fort, and the horizon reddened as with the 
glow of burning towns, for the thickets were on fire all around. The poor soldiers went out with their 
dogs to the lagoon of Diana, to be on the watch for smugglers. Their service is a dangerous one ; they 
are changed every fifteen days, as they would otherwise succumb to the fever. . . I lay down on the 
floor of the room, and tried to sleep, but the sultriness was dreadful. . . It was a diabolical night, 
and I sighed more than once, ' Aleria ! Aleria ! chi non amazza vituperia ! ' the lampoon current in 
Corsica, 'Aleria, whom thou killlest not abuses thee.'" — Gregorovius, p. 463. 

( l ) J. Baron Newhoff, in the county of La Marc, in Westphalia, was the personage who aspired to the 
sovereignty of Corsica. He had his education in the French service. He afterwards went to Spain, 
where he received some marks of regard from the Duke of Riperda, and Cardinal Alberoni. But being 
of a strange, unsettled, projecting disposition, he quitted Spain, and went and travelled into Italy, 
England, and Holland, ever in search of some new adventure. He at last fixed his attention on Corsica, 
and formed a scheme of making himself a king. 

He was a man of considerable abilities and address ; and after having fully informed himself of 
everything relating to the island, he went to Tunis, where he fell upon means to procure some money 
and arms ; and then came to Leghorn, from whence he wrote a letter to the Corsican chiefs, Giafferi 


At II, return to Casabianda, where M. Benielli meets me, and a good 
breakfast is most welcome after the morning's work, for even now the heat is 
great in these exposed plains. Whatever may be the privations of modern, 
compared with those of ancient, Aleria, the want of a good table is certainly 
not one, as sea-fish of several sorts, fresh river trout, wild-boar steaks and 
stew, hare and partridge, amply testified ; though the foreign visitor, however 
willing and able to appreciate such variety, could hardly help putting the 
friendly and simple hospitality of his French acquaintance as the highest item 
in the bill of fare. It seems that wild boars are very numerous here in the 
low underwood about the marshy districts near the sea, and the pursuit of 
them is a favourite amusement. M. Benielli tells me that from here to Corte 
is a ride only of six hours, and that on the way they pass Ghisoni, and near that 
place he says there is a gorge or chasm in the hills, called the Inseca, which he 
strongly urges me to see, as well as the forest of Marmano in that neighbour- 
hood, where there exists a summer station for the Penitencier establishment. 
But how can I see " all Corsica " in ten weeks ? At noon I took leave of my 
kindly entertainers, who, besides all the morning's attentions, pressed me 
warmly to stay with them two or three days. 

Alas for the tops of the mountains ! they are invisible ; nevertheless, the 
one great peculiarity of this plain is ever before me ; namely, that it spreads 
darkly green to the very roots of the hill-range rising directly out of it — a 
single pale blue wall, silver tipped. Meanwhile the day is hot, and progress 
slow, which is no evil at all, compared with my hard task in preventing Peter 
from beating his horses, and from swearing after a fashion which becomes 
unendurable when you must needs sit still and hear it. 

and Hyacinth Paoli, offering considerable assistance to the nation if they would elect him as their 
sovereign. This letter was addressed to Count Domenico Rivarola, who acted as Corsican plenipo- 
tentiary in Tuscany, and he gave for answer, that if Theodore brought the assistance he promised to the 
Corsicans, they would very willingly make him their king. Upon this, without loss of time, he set sail, 
and landed in the spring of 1736. He was a man of very stately appearance, and the Turkish dress 
which he wore added to the dignity of his mien. He had a few attendants with him. His manners 
were so engaging, and his offers so plausible, that he was proclaimed king of Corsica before Count 
Rivarola's despatches arrived to inform the chiefs of the terms upon which he had agreed. He 
brought with him about 1,000 zechins of Tunis, besides some arms and ammunition, and made 
magnificent promises of foreign assistance, so that the Corsicans, who were glad of any support, 
willingly gave in to his schemes. Theodore assumed every mark of royal dignity. He had his guards 
and his officers of state. He conferred titles of honour, and he struck money, both of silver and copper. 
The silver pieces were few in number, and can now hardly be met with. I have one of his copper coins ; 
on one side of it is "T. R. (Theodorus Rex), King Theodore," with a double branch crossed, and round 
it this inscription, " Pro bono publico Re. Co. (Regni Corsica;), For the public good of the Kingdom of 
Corsica." On the other side is the value of the piece, " cinque soldi, five sous." There was such a curiosity 
over all Europe to have King Theodore's coins, that his silver pieces were sold at four zechins each ; 
and when the genuine ones were exhausted, imitations of them were made at Naples, and, like the imita- 
tions of antiques, were bought up at a high price, and carefully preserved in the cabinets of the virtuosi. 
Theodore immediately blocked up the Genoese fortified towns ; and he used to be sometimes at one 
siege, sometimes at another, standing with a telescope in his hand, as if he spied the assistance which he 
said he expected. He used also the artifice of making large packets be continually brought to him from the 
continent, which he gave out to be from the different sovereigns of Europe, acknowledging his authority, 
and promising to befriend him. The Genoese were not a little confounded with this unexpected adventurer. 

G 2 


Even in a carriage drive "to see all Corsica," there is still room for 
some variety, and such may be counted the frequent walking of red-legged 
partridges across the road, and the sitting of bee-eaters on the telegraph wires. 
If possible, I shall revisit Casabianda on my way to Bastia, for not only is the 
spot historically interesting in more than one way, but the scenery of the east 
side of Corsica can be illustrated from it more advantageously than from any 
other point ; perhaps on a second visit the distance may be less clouded, and if 
I cannot return, it will at least be something to have seen this side of the 
island, which is less easy to become acquainted with than the western. 

The untidy Ghisonaccio is repassed, and the bridge over the Fiumorbo 
river, at 2.15 P.M. ; and at 4 the road to Pietrapola is reached, when I send on 
Peter to the inn, and take a short cut across the fields towards the entrance of 
the gorge in the hills, at the head of which are the village and the baths of 
Pietrapola, which perhaps there may yet be time to reach. In this walk, 
low down by the river Vabolesco, all is delightful, and strongly contrasted 
with the hot unsheltered Aleria ; great chesnut trees, here nearly in leaf, stand 
on grassy levels, or among fern four or five feet in height; all along the 
pleasant valley the hawthorn blooms, the blackbird and nightingale sing, and 

They published a violent manifesto against Theodore, treating him with great contempt, but at the same 
time showing that they were alarmed at his appearance. Theodore replied in a manifesto with all the 
calmness and dignity of a monarch, expressed his indifference as to the injurious treatment of the 
republic, and appeared firm in the hopes of victory .... After having been about eight months 
in Corsica, Theodore perceived that the people began to cool in their affections towards him, and did 
not act with the same resolution as before. He therefore wisely determined to leave them for a little, 
and try his fortune again upon the continent. So, after having laid down a plan of administration to 
be observed in his absence, he quitted the island in the month of November. He went to Holland, and 
there he was successful enough to get credit to a great extent from several rich merchants, particularly 
Jews, who trusted him with cannon and other warlike stores to a great value, under the charge of a 
supercargo. With these he returned to Corsica, in 1739, and on his arrival he put to death the supercargo, 
that he might not have any trouble from demands being made upon him. 

By this time the French had become so powerful in the island, that, although Theodore threw in his 
supply of warlike stores, he did not incline to venture his person, the Genoese having set a high price 
upon his head. He therefore chose to relinquish his throne, and give up his views of ambition for 
safety, &c, &c. . . . The Corsicans now talk differently of King Theodore. Some of them, 
who had most faith in his fine speeches, still extol him to the skies, to support their own judgment ; 
others, who looked upon him as an impostor, and never joined heartily in his measures, represent him 
as a kind of Wat Tyler — a king of a rabble ; but the most knowing and judicious, and the General 
(Paoli) himself, consider him in the moderate light in which he has now been represented, and own that 
he was of great service in reviving the spirit of the nation, which after a good many years of constant 
war, was beginning to droop, but which Theodore restored, while he rekindled the sacred fire of liberty. 
They, indeed, are sensible that his wretched fate has thrown a sort of ridicule on the nation, since their 
king was confined in a jail at London, which was actually the case of poor Theodore ; who, after 
experiencing the most extraordinary vicissitudes of fortune, chose to end his days in our island of liberty ; 
but was reduced to the wretched state of a prisoner for debt. Mr. Horace Walpole generously exerted 
himself for Theodore. He wrote a paper in the World, with great elegance and humour, soliciting 
a contribution for the monarch in distress, to be paid to Mr. Robert Dodsley, bookseller, as lord high 
treasurer. This brought him a very handsome sum. He was allowed to get out of prison. Mr. Wal- 
pole has the original deed by which Theodore made over the kingdom of Corsica in security to his 

creditors. He has also the great seal of his kingdom He died very soon after he got out 

of prison, and was buried in St. Anne's churchyard, Westminster. — Bostvell, pp. 106, 107. 

The shore occupied by Marius and Scylla was later the burlesque theatre of two disembarkations 


gravelly paths lead on by the side of the clear running stream, between 
clumps of lentisk and cool verdure. Rejoining the road — a route forestiere — 
which leads to the baths, it enters the pass of Pietrapola, a winding woody 
valley scene almost exactly like one in Derbyshire or Devonshire. The road 
runs at a considerable height above the beautifully clear rivulet that foams 
and dashes over rocks and white boulders, and only the presence of large ilex 
instead of ash or oak forbids an Englishman to suppose he is in his own 
country. But there is not time to pursue this leafy valley very far, for it is 
5.30 P.M., and I turn back towards Migliacciara without having reached the 
baths, though the walk even so far up the picturesque and narrowing vale in 
the enjoyable quiet of this cool evening has its agreeable memories. 

On the way back to Migliacciara by the upper road, glimpses of the 
plain are caught now and then from pleasant lanes, where the hedges 
are alive with bird-melody. There are a few fine cattle (not an ordinary 
sight in Corsica) here and there, some scattered cottages, all with an accom- 
paniment of pigs, which seem more common on this than on the other side of 
the island, and now and then a few peasants are met, on their return home to 
their villages, black and brown garmented as usual, their horses carrying 

and one departure of that Westphalian baron, Neuhoff — called king Theodore — crowned adventurer, 
friend of Law, lover of pomp and luxury, able speaker, libertine, shut up for debt in Holland, dying 
at length in a garret in London, and figuring in the " Supper of Six Kings" of Candide at Venice, the 
Libretto of Casti, and the music of Paisiello. — Valery, i., p. 278. 

It was at Aleria that Theodore of Neuhoff landed on the 12th of March, 1736, says Grego- 
rovius, at the commencement of a very interesting chapter on the subject, and quoting from an 
unpublished Genoese manuscript of the year 1739, " Accinelli's Historical, Geographical, and Political 
Memorabilia of the Kingdom of Corsica," embellished by the motto in no wise complimentary to the 
people of the island, "a perverse and erring people, beasts, and all brutes." (This MS. contains 
a portrait of King Theodore, in Moorish costume, &c. ; and a second representation of him is given in 
an old German book, printed in Frankfort, 1 736, published by Giovanni di San Forenzo. Theodore's 
appearance in Corsica, and his romantic election to be king of the island, then engaged the attention of 
all the world, and the account of his landing is given in this book on the authority of letters from 
Bastia.) "April 5. — At the port of Aleria arrived lately an English ship said to belong to the consul 

of that nation at Tunis, and in this a very exalted personage, &c His costume is after the 

manner of the Christians who travel in Turkey, and consists of a long scarlet-lined coat, a perruque 
and hat, as well as a stick and sword. He has a suite of two officers, a secretary, a priest, a lord-steward, 
a steward, a head cook, three slaves, and six lacqueys with him ; also, he has disembarked ten cannon, 
above 7,000 muskets, 2,000 pairs of shoes, and a great lot of all kinds of stores, among which are 
7,000 sacks of flour, likewise several chests of gold and silver specie, one of which is a strong lead- 
cornered one with silver handles, full of whole and half sequins from Barbary, and the treasure is 
reckoned at two millions of pieces of eight. The Corsican leaders have received him with great 
demonstrations of reverence, and conferred upon him the title of " Your Excellency," and of Viceroy ; 
whereupon he then appointed four of the Corsican colonels, with a monthly salary of a hundred pieces 
of eight ; he next created twenty companies, and caused a gun, a pair of shoes, and a sequin, to be given 
to each common soldier ; but a captain receives henceforth eleven pieces of eight every month, &c. 
He has taken up his residence at the episcopal palace at Campo Loro, before which house 400 men 
with two cannon keep guard ; . . . he is going to repair to Casinca, . . . and he awaits more 
large ships of war which are to arrive about the 15th of this month, to assail the Genoese with all his 
force by land and sea. . . We are assured that he has been deputed by some Catholic European 
potentates, who will second his enterprise in every way ; wherefore the Genoese are thrown into the 
extreme of alarm, and regard their cause in the island as good as lost. Some more recent accounts 
add that the above-mentioned foreigner is appointing his court with greater and greater magnificence, 


double. But the event of the evening lay in meeting an equestrian party, 
two of whom, good-looking damsels, were running a race, and others with 
their male friends all following in a body and encouraging the bold and fair, 
the like of which departure from the gravities I had not before seen in this 
island. Near the Migliacciara farm are immense flocks of black sheep, soon, 
I am told, to leave the plains for the upper mountain pastures. 

The Bastia Diligence had just arrived at the hotel, and as it was pretty full, 
the party at supper were numerous ; the repast, more remarkable for the 
rapidity with which it was consumed than for the quality of the food, was 
chiefly distinguished by the large supplies of capital asparagus, and for a 
pyramid of oysters from the etang, or salt-water lake, at Aleria ; these are of 
immense size, but, to my taste, wanting in delicacy. The Diligence company 
included some who were very amusing ; the conductor, who constantly reminded 
his charge that time was precious, and urged fast eating; a young and merry 
priest, a continental, who joked and smoked ; two naturalists, one a lively 
youth from Dresden, the other an elderly Austrian savant, who had met by 
chance at Bastia on their way to collect entomological novelties at Porto 
Vecchio ; and three or four others. In these round-table meetings there is a 
good deal of hurry and noise ; the Migliacciara Hebe — she is like an Arab 
girl, with her head so muffled up as to allow as little as possible of her very 
brown face to be seen — sets the various dishes, or rather throws them, with 
great vigour and audacity at no particular point on the table, and snatches 
up the plates, with clashing and no small tumult, from those who have 
accomplished the disappearance of a portion of food ; everybody helps every- 
body else to wine, and himself to food ; and conversation becomes general 
and loud. 

To-night it happens to be full of amusement, till M. le conducteur, having 

and is always attended by a guard from one church to another, and has appointed one named 
Hyacinthus Paoli to be his treasurer, &c. , &c." 

Theodore von Neuhoff was born at Altena, a small town in Westphalia. His father was a captain 
of the body-guard of the Bishop of Munster. . . When he was ten years old he was entered at the 
Jesuits' College at Munster. He killed a rival for some lady's love in a duel. All that transpired of the 
life of Theodore before he came to Corsica, displays him to us as one of the most prominent and successful 
of the series of adventurers of the eighteenth century. It is related that he became a page to the cele- 
brated Duchess of Orleans, and was educated into a finished and dexterous courtier. His Protean 
nature drew him into the most contradictory careers. In Paris, the Marquis de Courcillon procured an 
officer's commission for him. He became a desperate gambler ; then he fled to Sweden, to save himself 
from his creditors, to Baron von Gorst, and by turns formed connections with the adventurous and 
intriguing ministers of that age, with Ripperda, Alberoni, and lastly with Law, who all more or less 
transferred to political life the character of soldiers of fortune. Theodore became an intimate of 
Alberoni's, and gained such influence in Spain that he amassed a considerable fortune. After Alberoni's 
fall, he clove to Ripperda, and married a maid of honour to the Queen of Spain — a Spanish lady of 
English or Irish descent, a relation of the Duke of Ormond. She appears not to have been a paragon 
of beauty. Theodore abandoned her ; not without taking possession of her jewels, and other treasures. 
He went to Paris, where he was connected with the schemes of Law ; and, moving about through all 
countries of the world, tried everything in turn, in England and particularly in Holland, where he set 
speculations on foot, gambled, and made debts. Theodore came to Genoa, formed connections with the 


several times vainly essayed to move the party, rises, and saying with authority, 
"Messieurs! soyez raisonnables ! II faut que vous partiez," breaks up the 

April 27. — Off at 6 from the wide-meadowed and rural Migliacciara — a 
place that calls up many a memory of farms on the Campagna di Roma — and 
along the Bastia and Bonifacio road back to Solenzaro ; this is my only plan, for 
there is no possibility of getting to Bavella in one day from here, and, more- 
over, the weather is cloudy and threatens rain, ill prospect for high mountain 
passes. And now the whole beautiful line of snowy heights, so great a 
compensation for the long straight high road, is altogether invisible, and the 
drive has but slender charms; soon even the rarely occurring houses, the 
lazy people and the pigs, the fields of asphodel and carpet of fern, are all 
shut out by hard rain for a couple of hours. 

At 8 the weather clears as I reach the bridge over the Travo ; and since 
the chief necessity of this day consists in keeping clear of the village inn at 
Solenzaro as long as possible, I determine to make what studies I can about 
the river, and anyhow to stay out of doors till near sunset. G., besides 
breakfast and folio, has a plentiful supply of cloaks, so come rain or sunshine, 
Peter is sent on, and the horses, who may perhaps have a hard day's work at 
Bavella to-morrow, will have a long rest to-day. 

Drawing thrives ill, for the day is sunless and heavy, yet I venture by 
snatches to secure the nearer parts of this beautiful river scene ; and when rain 
falls, sitting below a thick myrtle and lentisk grove and writing up journal 
notes ekes out the hours. Days of Cumberland and of Devonshire Lydford 
seem to return as I sit by the clear and noisy river. At intervals the snowy 
heights appear, and then again are hidden in the most tantalising fashion, 

exiled Corsicans there and at Leghorn, took up the idea of becoming King of Corsica, and went to 
Tunis. In Barbary he was taken prisoner, wherefore he subsequently included a chain on his royal 
coat of arms. From Corsica he wrote to his Westphalian cousin, M. de Drost (the letter, which, with 
other information, is in the Genoese MSS. of Accinelli, is printed as authentic in the third volume of 
" Cambiaggi "), announcing his election (April 15, 1736) to the sovereignty of Corsica, and other par- 
ticulars of his life. 

No sooner had the election of Theodore become known than the ' ' doge, governors, and procurators 
of the republic of Genoa," published a manifesto, describing the new king "very odiously." It com- 
mences, " On the receipt of the news that at the port of Aleria, in our kingdom of Corsica, the English 
Captain Dick's small merchant ship has landed stores of war, and a certain person, who has unaccount- 
ably succeeded in rendering himself popular, &c. " . . and goes on to exhibit his past life and character 
in the blackest colours, dwelling, among other matters, on his continual change of name, Baron von 
Naxaer, von Snichner, von Nissen, von Smithberg ; of his perpetual change of residence, of his frauds 
on all sorts of people, his desertion of his wife, &c, &c, and concludes by threatening all who followed 
the said Baron of Neuhoff with penalties, &c. (iMay 9, 1736). 

Theodore then published as answer a counter-manifesto to the Genoese decree, "given in the camp 
before Bastia, July 10, 1736," a letter of the most haughty and violent nature, and which must have 
enraged the republic beyond all limits of patience. 

The new King set up his court at Cervione ; he founded orders, coined money, &c, &c. 

After a vain attempt to regain his crown in 1 739, he retired to England. He left behind him a 


happily beaming out brightly for an hour later in the day, so that, in the 
end, I can procure their outline correctly. (See Plate II.) 

One human being only is seen through all the morning, to wit, a half 
frightened little boy, to whom I give the empty wine-bottle after breakfast ; 
but he supposes I want it filled with water, and although on his return to 
the place where I was sitting he finds me no longer there, I meet him, 
seeking for me everywhere, a full hour afterwards, and still carrying the full 
water bottle — a degree of patient virtue meriting all that remains of the 
unfinished breakfast. 

The rest of the day's work consists in slowly walking to Solenzaro, getting 
one or two memoranda of the positive black-purple line of burnt " maquis " all 
across the plain, and watching the vast crags of the Incudine range gradually 
glooming out through mist and thunder-cloud as I reach the village at 7 P.M. 

A very queer little hotel indeed seems this of the Widow Orsola ; from its 
ground floor a ladder leads to an upper set of apartments, including three 
small rooms, all occupied, besides an open platform landing or common pas- 
sage, the only place in Solenzaro where a night's rest can be got. " Aia filav 
vvktcl — only for one night " — says the Suliot, as he puts up my camp-bed in a 
corner, gets the room swept, and gradually contrives to change the confusion 
of the place into something like order. I decline the offer of one of the 
French employes, who good-naturedly begs to vacate his own room for me ; 
and finally two tables are introduced, one to serve for supper, the other for my 

wonderful life-dream, in which he had seen himself on a wild island, with a crown on his head, and a 
sceptre in his hand, surrounded by marquises, earls, barons, knights, chancellors, and keepers of the 
great seal. He now sat beggared and sad in a London debtor's prison, into which he had been cast by 
his creditors. He died in the year 1756. Walpole opened a subscription for the benefit of the poor 
Corsican king, and delivered him from imprisonment, in gratitude for which Theodore made him a 
present of the great seal of his kingdom. He was buried in the cemetery of Westminster. — Gregorovhis, 
pp. 466—483. 

Gregorovius appends this note : — ' ' He was buried in an obscure corner among the paupers in the 
churchyard of St. Anne's, Soho." {Atkencewn, No. 1427, March, 1855.) 

We find a neat mural tablet fixed against the exterior wall of the Church of St. Anne's, Soho, at the 
west end, on which, surmounted by a coronet, is inscribed the following epitaph, written by H. 
Walpole : — 

"Near this place is interred 

Theodore, King of Corsica, 

Who died in this parish, 

Dec. 11, 1756, 

Immediately after leaving the 

King's Bench prison, 

By the benefit of the Act of Insolvency ; 

In consequence of which, 

He registered his kingdom of Corsica 

For the use of his creditors." 

" The grave, great teacher, to a level brings, 
Heroes and beggars, galley slaves and kings ; 
But Theodore this moral learned ere dead : 
Fate poured his lesson on his living head ; 
Bestowed a kingdom, and denied him bread." — Forester. 

April 28.] THE INN AT SOLENZARO. 89 

man to sleep on, and the evening meal is set forth in such space as has been 
cleared of boxes, barrels, and sacks. 

The dinner, with a curious inconsistency that I am now beginning to recog- 
nise as a regular part of Corsican travel, is quite a contrast to the rude discom- 
fort of the room — good scup and boiled meat, trout which might do credit to a 
table at Ambleside, capital roast mutton and salad, with the red Tallano wine, 
famous in these parts. Moreover, the quiet and obliging ways of the Corsi- 
cans who administer these rustic roadside inns is beyond praise, and after two 
weeks' sojourn in the island, I am coming to think that a more unpretendingly 
civil and attentive set of people to a stranger who brings them very little 
profit, can hardly be found. 

Meanwhile, in the opposite room beyond the ladder-entrance, various 
people employed in the metal or wood interests are supping, among them the 
young Dresden naturalist, who had broken down in the long Diligence journey, 
and is going on to Porto Vecchio by slow instalments. Later, I converse with 
some of the " continentals," and learn the details of what I hope is to be my 
to-morrow's journey to the Bavella forest. The Maison de l'Alza (or Maison 
Forestiere), the principal forest lodge, is, says M. Mathieu, twenty-three kilo- 
metres from Solenzaro, and thence it is five or six more up to the Bocca di 
Bavella, or head of the pass, beyond which there are twelve or fourteen more 
kilometres to Zonza. Provisions must be taken for the whole route, as none 
are likely to be found on it. Some to whom I speak, say boldly that they 
think there is no chance of my trap, owing to its weight and the smallness of 
its horses, ever arriving even at the top of the first pass, for there are two ; 
others opine that the ascent may be accomplished with care, and as I and G. 
shall always walk, I do not doubt that I may get there. To-day, however, I 
shall only endeavour to reach the Maison de l'Alza, drawing as much as I can 
by the way. And it has rained so hard in the mountains all day that a clear 
morrow may, I think, be hoped for. 

April 28. — At 5 A.M. the weather is cloudy, but yet giving sufficient 
promise of clearing to allow of a start on this cross-country expedition. The 
obliging Widow Orsola, besides recommending thin slices of toast with the 
morning cup of coffee, superintends the arrangements for carrying food for at 
least two days, in the shape of bread and cheese, a large piece of meat, twenty- 
five eggs, cold trout, and three bottles of wine, for all which, besides yesterday's 
lodging and supper, ten francs is the charge. 

We are off at six, and ascending immediately behind the little chapel I had 
drawn three days ago, turn out of the main road into the Route Forestiere, 
which, like that on the hills of Spedale, is broad and in good order, but 
without parapets. The views become finer at every turn in the steep ascent ; 
immense tracts of wood and " maquis " stretch away to the north ; before me, 


towards the south-west, rise the huge crags of the Bavella Pass, their summits 
hidden in mist, and far below rolls the river through underwood and among 
rocks, with pines growing close to the water's edge. (See Plate 12.) 

At 7.30 a stoppage occurs from meeting the first timber carts I have seen 
in these lands, loaded each with a single tree-trunk a hundred feet or upwards 
in length, and drawn by from ten to fifteen mules. From a distance, these 
cars seem like giant serpents or megalosauri slowly winding down the moun- 
tain, and it is as well to perceive their coming beforehand, so as to draw up 
by the inner side of the road ; for, although guided behind by two men with 
a sort of helm, they are dangerously unwieldy neighbours if encountered 
unexpectedly at any of the sharp turns of the road, the mules when going 
down hill being stopped with difficulty. 

About 8 a small white house of refuge in time of snow or storm is passed ; 
outside it is a forno, or oven for baking bread. A long string of mules comes 
down the mountain laden with wine from Tallano ; and, later, M. Mathieu, 
the agent or head forester, passes on horseback, and says that he shall be at the 
Maison de l'Alza to receive me — we are a long way off that yet, however. The 
pass here is very grand, and I obtain many a memorandum of it as the car- 
riage goes slowly up the hill. The pines are much larger than those lower 
down, and grow wildly among the detached masses of granite, among which 
the river foams and dashes. 

At 9.45, being at the eleventh kilometre, half the way is accomplished, 
and hitherto I see no reason to despair of getting in good time to the desired 
halt, if only Peter can be induced to leave his horses alone ; while they toil 
up slowly and regularly, stopping from time to time, things go on well, but 
when he bursts into one of his vicious paroxysms, he beats them — if I or my 
man are not near enough to prevent him — till they back nearly to the edge 
of the precipice ; once or twice a very ugly sight. 

Meanwhile the pass becomes constantly finer and more interesting ; the 
immense crags in front — the hightest of this part of the lofty central range, 
and very close to the Mont Incudine — are wrapped in cloud, and are awfully 
mysterious, and somewhat resembling the great pillars of Gebel Serbal, in the 
peninsula of Sinai. The pines are exquisitely beautiful, and unlike any I have 
ever seen ; perfectly bare and straight to a great height, they seem to rise like 
giant needles from the " deep blue gloom " of the abyss below. Granite rocks 
of splendid forms are on every side, the spaces between them cushioned with 
fern, and the tall spires of the Pinns maritima shooting out from their sides 
and crevices. Springs by the road-side are frequent and welcome, for the way 
is exceedingly steep, and Giorgio has to work hard in pushing the carriage 
behind, which the poor little horses, willing, but ill-fed and ill-treated, find it 
difficult to pull up. 

11 A.M. — At the fourteenth kilometre, where there is another little forest 

April 28.] 



house or refuge (the spot is called Rocca Pinsuta, a wondrous scene of fine 
crags and pines), we halt for breakfast and to remain at least till 1 o'clock. 
May the heavy clouds now gathering and throwing a deeper gloom over the 
depths and tremendous heights around, not turn to violent storm and rain ! for 
there are still three kilo- 
metres (two miles) to the 
bocca, or top of the pass ; 
two gendarmes, however, 
who come down the hill, 
say that the road ahead is 
less worn and not quite so 
steep as along the part we 
have come up. 

Leaving G. to oversee 
Peter and the horses, I 
wander on alone with my 
note - book and pencil. 
The colour here is more 
beautiful than in most 
mountain passes I have 
seen, owing to the great 
variety of underwood 
foliage and the thick cloth- 
ing of herbs ; forms, too, of 
granite rocks seem to me 
more individually interest- 
ing than those of other 
formations ; and the sin- 
gular grace and beauty of 
the pine-trees has a pe- 
culiar charm — their tall 
stems apparently so slen- 
der, and so delicate the 
proportions of the tuft of 
foliage crowning them. 
The whole of this profound 
gorge, at the very edge of 
which the road runs, is full 
of mountain scenes of the 

utmost splendour, and would furnish pictures by the score to a painter who could 
remain for a lengthened sojourn. Sometimes ivory-white, needle-spiry pine 
stems, dead and leafless, break the dark yawning chasm of some black abyss far 



below with a line as of a silver thread; now a - great space of gray mist in the 
distant hollow depth is crossed by lines of black burned stems ; anon the high 
trunk of a solitary tufted tree looks like a kind of giant flower on a tall 
stalk ; and ever above are delicate myriads of far pines " pluming the craggy 
ledge," their stems drawn like fine hair against the sky. 

At 3 the top of the pass, or Bocca di Larone, is reached ; and here 
the real forest of Bavella commences, lying in a deep cup-like hollow between 
this and the opposite ridge, the north and south side of the valley being 
formed by the tremendous columns and peaks of granite (or porphyry ?), 
the summits of which are seen above the hills from Sartene, and which stand 
up like two gigantic portions of a vast amphitheatre, the whole centre of 
which is filled with a thick forest of pine. These crags, often as I have 
drawn their upper outline from the pass I have been ascending to-day, are 
doubly awful and magnificent now that one is close to them, and, excepting 
the heights of Serbal and Sinai, they exceed in grandeur anything of the 
kind I have ever seen, the more so that at present the distance is half hidden 
with dark cloud, heavily curtaining all this singular valley ; and the tops 
of the huge rock buttresses being hidden, they seem as if they connected 
heaven and earth. At times the mist is suddenly lifted like a veil, and 
discloses the whole forest — as it were in the pit of an immense theatre 
confined between towering rock-wall, and rilling up with its thousands of 
pines all the great hollow (for it is hardly to be called a valley in the ordinary 
sense of the term) between those two screens of stupendous precipices. As 
I contemplate the glory of this astonishing amphitheatre, I decide to stay 
at least another day within its limits, and I confess that a journey to Corsica 
is worth any amount of expense and trouble, if but to look on this scene 
alone. At length I have seen that of which I have heard so much — a 
Corsican forest. {See Plate 13.) 

The road leads down from the Bocca di Larone to the bottom of the 
hollow, and, crossing it, mounts the further side, half way up which, a small 
white speck, is the Maison de l'Alza, and the end of my day's journey. All 
along the descent there are no words for the majesty and wonder of this 
scenery ; the tremendous mystery of those cloud-piercing towers and pillars, 
their sides riven and wrinkled in thousands of chasms, with pines growing 
in all their crevices and on all their ledges and pinnacles ; the waves of the 
forest, so to speak, stretching from side to side of the vale ; the groups of 
ilex, mixed with pine, in innumerable pictures, massive or slender, bare- 
stemmed or creeper-hung, flourishing in life, or dead glittering and white. 

At the end of the descent stand two small foresters' houses on the short 
space of level ground between the four sides of this vale of Bavella ; but here, 
at the twentieth kilometre from Solenzaro, the clouds burst, and violent 
torrents of rain make shelter welcome. Yet when the storm ceases for a 


time, and the sun gleams out through cloud, the whole scene is lighted up in 
a thousand splendid ways, and becomes more than ever astonishing, a change- 
ful golden haze illumes the tops of the mighty peaks, a vast gloom below, 
resulting from the masses of black solemn pines standing out in deepest shadow 
from pale granite cliffs dazzling in the sunlight, torrents of water streaming 
down between walls and gates of granite, giant forms of trees in dusky recesses 
below perpendicular crags ; no frenzy of the wildest dreams of a landscape 
painter could shape out ideal scenes of more magnificence and wonder. 

From the twenty-first kilometre the road again begins to wind steeply 
upwards between tall walls of spectre pines, half seen through a dim mist and 
thickly falling rain ; and at times I am glad to take shelter below some of the 
rocks, till complete wet-throughness renders any further care unnecessary. 
There is now no longer any fear of precipices, for the road here has a natural 
parapet of rock ; and G. has worked hard in superintending the progress of 
the carriage from behind, while the tired horses creep slowly up ; for in this 
last stage of their discomfort, Peter the merciless is not to be suffered to beat 
them — a shutting up of one valve which only occasions his anger to escape 
more violently by another. So that when there is a pause of a few minutes he 
occupies them in the most ferocious cursing, often so ridiculous, that it ceases 
even to be shocking, as he introduces into his maledictions a multitude of 
novel and definite detail quite surprising. Once, when the horses had stopped, 
and I prohibited their being touched, Peter's volubility ceased from sheer 
want of power to continue ; " for," said he, " I have no more breath, and 
besides I have sworn at everything, and there's nothing left to ' bestemmiare,' 
— to curse." But at that moment the upraised voice of several cuckoos, who 
seemed rather than not to rejoice in the rain, was heard, and gave him a fresh 
impetus, for, with a poetical ingenuity worthy a better cause, he exclaimed, 
" May all the parliament of heaven be so full of these nasty cuckoo birds that 
the saints and apostles will not be able to hear themselves or each other speak ; 
and may every drop of rain turn into a million of snakes on its way from 
the sky downwards !" Assuredly Peter is a most unpleasant coachman. 

The Maison de l'Alza, close to the twenty-fourth kilometre, was reached at 
5.30 P.M. ; a neat tidy house of two storeys, standing in a space cleared from 
trees and looking directly across the valley to the Bocca di Larone. Here 
M. Mathieu came out, and received me most amiably, giving me and my 
servant rooms ; and, after putting on dry clothes, most welcome were a good 
fire and a hot basin of soup, not to speak of trout, pork and potatoes, and an 
omelette with morelles — a production of my host's — with plenty of good wine. 
A double-kerchiefed old woman and an old guardiano waited at table, and the 
house in the woods was a treasure after the day's work and walk. So also 
was a sound sleep in the camp-bed ; but, before that happened, I had already 
resolved to remain here all to-morrow. 



[April 29.. 

April 29, 4.45 A.M., wake with a strong impression that it is needful to work 
extra hard all day, in order to secure as many records as possible of the 
scenery I walked through in the afternoon of yesterday, anything approaching 
to the magnificence of which, as forest landscape, I have never seen ; yet, 



owing to the perfect clearness of to-day, there cannot be that wealth ol effect 
produced yesterday by the passing and lifting of clouds across the enormous 
cra g S — sublime and continually changing — and that infinite variety of light 
and shadow thrown over the pines and all the foliage of the deep hollow valley. 

April 29.] 


The sun rises cloudlessly over the world of pines, and presently forms new 
and glorious pictures, as point after point of the western side of the valley is 
lighted up, while all the eastern part of the forest is as yet in dark and solemn 
shadow, below the giant crags— long streams of gold and bronze widening 
out gradually into masses of luminous green, and a flood of glory spreading 
slowly up the immense granite buttresses. I set off at 5.30 A.M. down to the 
bottom of the valley, and crossing it, go up as far as the Bocca di Larone, 
M. Mathieu, on his return to Solenzaro, overtaking me by the way, of whom I 
took leave, with thanks, for his good-natured hospitality. 

Thenceforth, all the rest of the day went in hard work, only interrupted at 
11, after Giorgio's announcement, " €tol/jlov to 7rp6yevfia, icvpie — Sir, break- 
fast is ready" — and by walking from one part to another of this never-to-be- 
forgotten beautiful forest, not the least of its charms being the profound 
silence, broken only by the cuckoo's notes echoing from the crags, and from 
the fulness of melody chanted by thousands of blackbirds. Other forests in 
Corsica are much larger than this, but surely none can surpass it in certain 
qualities. For, remarkable as the valley of Bavella undoubtedly is as a whole, 
by reason of its intense solemnity, and for the double range of apparently 
perpendicular barriers which close it entirely from the outer world, and admit 
no prospect whatever beyond its limits, it is not less so for the exquisite detail 
of its scenery, the brushwood or " maquis " — particularly the arbutus and great 
heath — being throughout of the most perfect beauty. In some spots, too, 
groups of large evergreen oaks standing on slopes of green sward or fresh 
fern, and at others, masses of isolated granite, form pictures hardly to be 
exceeded in grandeur. 

A slowly moving black and orange lizard is a noticeable inhabitant of the 
forest ; he waddles gravely across the road, and frequently gets crushed by 
the wheels of the great timber carts. For, above the Maison de l'Alza great 
havoc goes on amongst the stately pines, and these enormous trees, peeled and 
cut angularly, are carried down to the valley depth, and thence up to the 
Bocca di Larone, and all the way to the shore at Solenzaro — often, as I have 
before observed, very unpleasant loads if met at sharp turns of the road. 
Some of these giant trees are six feet in diameter, and require fourteen or 
sixteen mules to drag them up to the Bocca. 

After a hard day's drawing I come up to the Maison de TAlza before sun- 
set. Although the wrapping mists of yesterday's cloud and storm are blown 
away, and what seemed the fathomless hollows and immeasurable summits are 
now plainly understood ; yet, in spite of this, parts of the forest are still truly 
extraordinary, the greatest novelty of the scenery being that the great granite 
columns are so near to you, that here and there some of them appear literally 
overhead, while every imaginable beauty of detail adorns their surface ; and, 
again, one remarks how, sometimes, multitudes of tall needle-like pine stems 


shine brightly off the deep-shadowed chasms in the crags, or cluster in lines of 
jetty black against the pallid granite. 

Some of the scenes at the foot of the ascent to the Maison de l'Alza, and 
close to the great precipices, occupy me two or three hours — one, a narrow 
gorge with a perspective of spires, leading, as it were, into the very inmost 
heart of the mountain ; another, of bold crags (see Plates 14 and 15), dark 
against the sunset sky, and rising out of the most profuse vegetation — both 
scenes grand beyond expression in words. Nor, indeed, except by very careful 
study, could many of the greatest and wildest beauties of this forest be repre- 
sented in a sketch, and to attempt to do so seems like endeavouring in one 
day to make satisfactory notes from the contents of a whole library, full of all 
sorts of literature. Nevertheless, I have succeeded in obtaining a few striking 
points of this wonderful landscape. 

The wife of the guardiano did her best to procure us a dinner, though the 
materials of it were only potatoes in various forms ; happily the Solenzaro 
larder was far from exhausted. A painter, however, might and should endure 
anything short of starvation, to see what I have seen of Bavella. 

April 30. — Before the red sun glows over the eastern sea, and while yet 
the grand forest is in deep shade, I have risen, and having paid the expenses 
of Madame Guardiano, and secured a lot of pine cones and seeds for Stratton 
and various other English places, I leave G. to follow with disagreeable Peter 
and the trap, and walk on alone ; strict injunctions previously given that the 
horses are to take their own time, since there are but six more kilometres 
to the top, and we shall there make a long halt. 

The silence and majesty of these pine forests at this hour ! the deep 
obscurity in dim untrodden dells ! the touches of gold high up on the loftiest 
branches and foliage ! — And as the road mounts steeply upward, how beautiful 
are the cushions of green, the topmost verdure of the thousands of trees on 
which, far below, you look down ! — Generally speaking, the Corsican pine has 
but little lateral foliage, but sometimes on the outskirts of the forest, you meet 
with trees that have broad arms and dark lines of flat spreading leafage, 
exactly resembling some in Martin's pictures. To make small memoranda as 
I walk up is all I can do, though in reality there are great pictures on every 
side, but such as require a long time to portray. 

At 9 A.M., a little beyond the twenty-ninth kilometre, the last forest 
house, called Maison de Bavella, is reached, and here is to be the two hours' 
halt. The position of this little building is bewitching, for it overlooks every 
part of the valley, and being considerably higher than the opposite Bocca di 
Larone, has a most extended horizon in that direction ; some of the tallest and 
finest formed trees stand near, serving as frames for the scene below, and 
between their stems, far away on the eastern sea, appears the island of Elba (so at 


least say the people at the forest house, though by its situation I should have 
thought it Monte Cristo) ; and beyond that the Italian coast appears perfectly 
clear. An hour or more is passed in drawing at some distance from the high 
road. How pure at this height is the air ! what stately trees around ! how 
perfect and beautiful are -these scenes ! and yet, though the last two days have 
considerably altered my opinion about pine-forest scenery, I would rather 
live among palms than pines. 

After breakfast, by the side of a delicious spring, on the last of the food pru- 
dently secured at Solenzaro, I wander on still upwards. All about the slopes 
above and around the Bavella forest-house, stand numerous little houses, or 
rather huts of stone ; these, says the woman at the Maison Forestiere, are all 
occupied in the summer by the people of Zonza, the next village westward ; the 
whole of the inhabitants of that place coming, as it were, up-stairs, and passing 
three months in the forest. " Everybody comes," says the guardianessa, ''the 
maire, the doctor, the priest ;" but how they exist in such miserable dwellings 
it is not easy to understand, the rude buildings being made of masses of 
granite put together in the most cyclopean fashion, with wooden roofs, and 
heavy stones to keep the planks in their places. Inside there are shelves to 
do duty as beds, and in some there are tables, all of the roughest description. 
I counted more than eighty of these " mountain homes ;" as many more are 
fallen down, and are simply heaps of stones, while others are very unsafe 
and ready to collapse with the next heavy snow or violent wind. The turf- 
slopes and whispering tall pines about this high eastern ridge of Bavella are 
delightful ; and, doubtless, in the summer, when the temperature is always 
settled, an out-door life on this mountain top must have charms that atone for 
the want of comfort these unsatisfactory domiciles must present. By noon I 
reach the Bocca di Bavella, or top of the pass, where pines flattened and bent 
tell of the fury of the south-west tempests ; and here I look back for the last 
time on one of the most beautiful and wonderful dream-scenes of forest land- 
scape it has been my lot to see. Farewell, Bavella ! 

After a short space of level, the road winds downward still through forests, 
which on this side of the mountain belong to the commune of Zonza, and are 
in many parts very magnificent, unfolding views of great extent and grandeur; 
but in no wise comparable to that in the centre or valley of Bavella, inas- 
much as the accompaniment of the perpendicular crags which wall in the hollow 
forest there is wanting. After I P.M. the road passes another Maison Forestiere, 
and now again for a space there are tall, majestic trees, and folds of innumerable 
pines stretch around the western sides of the mountain range, the higher points 
of which increase in picturesqueness as they are more remote. Farther down 
the trees are more mixed in species — a tangled wood of ilex and oak — and 
the scene is enlivened by a greater amount of animal life — orioles, chaffinches, 
and robins ; birds, of which in the depths of the forest but few are seen. By 




[April 30. 

degrees the pine ceases, and opener views succeed, gradually breaking up into 
plots of turf with the familiar detached masses of granite ; then, little by little, 
groups of chesnut trees and cultivation of corn follow, and presently I halt to 
draw the Incudine heights towering on the eastern side of the landscape and 
ribbed with snow. 

3 P.M. — Zonza is reached unexpectedly, for, till a close approach, it is 
hidden by trees — a picturesque village, with a snow-white new campanile ; and, 
to give the horses a rest, I order Peter to pick me up later at a spot where, 

among vast boulders of granite, the village composes prettily with the near 
rocks and far mountain, and masses of fine though still leafless chesnut. 
Below Zonza the road passes much beautiful landscape, some, indeed, of 
the most graceful I have seen in Corsica, very unlike the stern wild 
splendour of the Bavella scenery, but full of delicate and lovely Claude-like 
views, bosky dells, and a curving river, wooded distances, and good lines of 
far hill, among which I would there were more time to linger. Ever descending, 
the road at 3.45 passes another village, San Gavino : except as they combine 
with other objects, these Corsican dwellings are rarely attractive, either from 
their form or colour ; but, adjoining this group of hamlets, there are very 
beautiful pastures and chesnut groves. After San Gavino is left, there is less 
of the picturesque and more of cultivation. 


At 5 P.M. I reach Levie, (*) the road being always carried high up on the 
northern side of the great valley that runs in a south-westerly direction from 
the Incudine range ; and had I found the scenery remarkable for beauty, I 
had thought of stopping here for the night, since, although there is no sort of 
inn in the place, I have a letter of introduction from Signor Galloni d'Istria to 
the maire. But Levie, a large village, with detached houses along both sides 
of the main road, presents no inducement to remain, the buildings being ugly, 

( ! ) Levie, a quiet and lonely village, and which has had no " Vendetta " since 1826, was troubled on 
the day T came through it by a fearful accident. A man had perished on account of a fowl, escaped 
from a courtyard, and which one woman had endeavoured to get back from another, her neighbour ; the 
latter, still pretending that the fowl was her's, consented at length to restore it, on the advice of a priest 
who stood by. The first woman, displeased at this manner of restitution, instantly wrung the neck of 
the fowl, and, throwing the dead bird at the head of her rival, exclaimed, " Since you persist in saying 
the fowl is yours — eat it ! " On this, some men joined in the fray, and being armed, the issue was fatal 
to one youth, against whom one of the opposite party had some previous grudge. The disasters which 
anciently arose from the carriage of arms were well pointed out by Limperani, and by the naive and 
pathetic sensibility of Filippini, who terminates his history at the year 1591 by this passage :— "The 
suppression of arms was ordered by Genoa in 17 15, and the official reports of that time show that in 
the thirty-two preceding years 28,715 homicides had been committed, i.e., 897 annually." The permis- 
sion to bear fire-arms is one of the calamities which still continues to afflict Corsica ; it flatters the 
idleness of the peasant, who believes himself somebody when he walks about with his gun ; and the 
suppression or limit of this habit is one of the first measures that should be taken to give peace to the 
island. — Valery, i., p. 213. 

To Levie belongs San Gavino de' Carbini, a place mentioned in Corsican history as being the chief 
seat of that extraordinary sect, the Giovannali ; those ancient Corsican communists, who made such 
rapid progress on the island, and were, in a manner, forerunners of the St. Simonists and the Mormons, 
&c. — Gregorovms, p. 428. 

[Of the tenets of the Giovannali, Valery and the Abbe Galletti give the following account, which, in 
face of facts established as historical concerning the destruction of Waldenses in Piedmont, Pro- 
testants in France, and Jews in Spian, may be received with caution. Those who, in the name of the 
Most High, confounded murder with righteousness, would hardly have scrupled at falsehood, had it 
served their purpose. — E. L.] 

Carbini, a little village near Levie, once celebrated and flourishing, has been ruined through false 
doctrines and bad ways. It was the cradle and the theatre of the excesses of the politico-religious sect 
of the Giovannali, a sort of Corsican Saint-Simonians of the fourteenth century. The Giovannali were 
remarkable for the strangeness of their costume, and the mystic rules of their lives ; already they had 
preached to an agitated and disquieted society the division of property, association of humanity into a 
single family, and absolute obedience to one and the same rule ; and they united to vague and chimerical 
projects of reform the most anti-social and cynical theories, such as of a community of women, &c. 
After having made rapid strides, and having counted among their proselytes the powerful Signori Henri 
and Paul d'Attala, they were excommunicated by Innocent VI. Menaced and pursued without pity 
by the populace, who execrated them, and by the zealous Papal Commissioner, who came to Cor- 
sica with troops, the Giovannali, in spite of their pacific principles, took up arms, and, instead of 
sinking into obscurity, as did their Parisian successors, the whole of them were massacred. — - Valery, i., 
p. 214. 

Carbini is the place where, towards the end of the fourteenth century, the execrable society of the 
Giovannali arose, which professed a sort of St. Simonianism, and the most exaggerated communistic 
opinions. Paul and Henri d'Attala, bastard brothers of Guglielminaccio d'Attala, were the creators of 
this religious sect, which was excommunicated by Innocent VI., and pitilessly persecuted by the 
Corsicans, headed by the Commissioners of the Pope ; finally the faction was extirpated by a massacre 
in the Pieve or Canton of Alessani. The Giovannali probably took their name from the Church 
of St. John of Carbini, where their proselytes often assembled ; they only recognised the Gospel 
of St. John, which they interpreted after their own fashion. Community of goods, whether money, 
land, or women, was one of their doctrines, and in their churches after service, the lights were 
extinguished, and they gave way to monstrous orgies. Carbini, become deserted by the destruction of 
the Giovannali, was re-peopled by families sent from Sartene. —Galletti, p. 159. 

II 2 


separately and collectively, and in a situation commanding no views remarka- 
able for beauty. Gardens abound in the neighbourhood, and in no place in 
Corsica have I seen greater abundance of fruit trees of various kinds — 
almond, cherry, pear, &c. ; these, and the ilex and oak interspersed among the 
dwellings, remind me of Mezzovo, in Albania, though here, in the street and 
on doorsteps, are groups of idlers such as industrious Mezzovo containeth not. 

5.30 P.M. — A tedious ascent follows; the road crossing the ridge that 
divides this deep and long valley from that of Santa Lucia di Tallano, a group 
of communes, which I have heard spoken of as famous for the production of 
some of the best wines in the island, and for its advancement in agriculture. 
All this part of to-day's journey has but little beauty to recommend it, 
nor, until the road dips into the next valley, is the scenery interesting, either 
as to general outline or nearer detail ; one village only (Mera) appears to 
me in passing to offer any attraction for the pencil. All down these long 
hill drives, and from village to village, but few people are met with ; three or 
four drivers, two timber-carts from the forest, with their long team of mules, 
besides half a dozen peasants, are the utmost signs of human life seen 
throughout this day's journey. 

On approaching Santa Lucia di Tallano the landscape becomes every 
minute more pleasing ; the principal village is compactly built on a little hill, 
and is picturesque from the presence of a good campanile and an old convent 
close by. Everywhere there is foliage and abundant streams of water, and 
below — for Santa Lucia stands very high — you see the valley of Tallano, almost 
a little plain, and full of cultivated undulating ground ; a long range of hills 
separates this — the valley of the Tavaria — from that of Olmeto or the 
Boracci, which runs into the gulf of Valinco. There seem to be some very 
large and good houses in Santa Lucia di Tallano, and I rejoice at not having 
stopped at Levie. 

Sometimes, however, a man may be thankful too soon ; for, on driving 
into the little town, and enquiring of a gendarme for the " best hotel," I am 
directed to a house, the entrance and interior of which is so unclean and 
uncomfortable, that with reluctance I decide on not risking a sleepless night 
there. Other hotel, they assure me, there is none ; and, as I have an intro- 
ductory letter to Don Giacomo Giacomone, the principal proprietor of the 
place, I cause myself to be shown to his dwelling — a spacious house beyond 
the piazza. Unfortunately, Don Giacomo is from home, and, although the 
Signora, his wife, sends down a message begging me to remain, I do not 
like, at the late hour it now is, to intrude suddenly as claimant of a night's 
lodging ; and, consequently, return to the hotel with small prospect of 
comfort. Luckily, meanwhile, the landlord has had the offer of a room in 
another building, where it is possible to get housed ; this has, at least, the 
negative merit of being less dirty than his own, and is, before long, by 

May i. 



Giorgio's arrangements, made tolerably available. It is but just to say 
that the innkeeper did all in his power to oblige, bringing in some supper 
— such as it was — from the hotel, and making apologies without end for 
being so taken by surprise as to be unable to procure any eatables except 
eggs, salad, and pickled tunny. In no instance as yet have I met in Corsica 
anything but civility ; and when a traveller encounters discomfort it seems to 
be to these worthy people a cause of real regret. 

After supper, Don Giacomo Giacomone came in, much distressed at not 
having been at home when I called at his house, to which he even now 


proposes I should go. Eventually it is arranged that at sunrise I should 
be shown all that is to be seen in and around Santa Lucia di Tallano, and 
that I should breakfast with him at 10. 

It seems that Dr. Bennet, of Mentdne, has been staying with M. Giacomone 
for three days, and only left this morning. 

May i. — Waking, a vivid impression of Bavella and its wondrous trees 
and precipices — that strange oasis of glory, which is yet fresh and bright to 
memory — haunts the landscape painter, who, since days passed in the pine 
woods in Eubcea, has seen nothing of the sort so beautiful. 

At 5 A.M. I get coffee at the " hotel" — alas, for the state of the floors 
thereof! — and then meet Don Giacomo Giacomone, who awaits me with a cousin 


in the piazza, a square, neither small nor of undistinguished appearance, for 
it contains several good houses, and it seems strange that so well-looking a 
town should be so ill off for accommodation. My first occupation is to get a 
drawing of Santa Lucia, from a point to which Don Giacomo takes me, 
whence the view, though wanting in variety, is very pleasing; and this is 
followed by a walk along a new road my guide is making (to join that leading 
to Zicavo), traced along the higher part of the valley, and commanding views 
up and down it both extensive and beautiful, towards Zicavo on one side, and 
on the other towards Sartene, a portion of which is just visible from one point 
of it. Don Giacomo, who is a great landowner here, and a most energetic 
improver of his property, is full of enthusiasm, and justly so, concerning the 
valley of Tallano, a canton or district containing several communes. The 
cultivation of the vine is one of its principal interests ; the fertility of the 
soil, the richness of vegetation, abundance of fruit, and facility of transport 
by road to Sartene and Ajaccio, justify the eulogies of my wealthy companion, 
who is as free from ostentation as he is full of hospitality. 

Our next move, after returning to Santa Lucia, is to visit the two old 
churches mentioned by Valery,^) and the ancient convent of Pisan times, now 
abandoned, and belonging, apparently, like everything else here, to M. Giaco- 
mone, who is evidently the Marquis de Carabas of Santa Lucia di Tallano. 
This convent, my guide suggests, might be made into a hotel for the use of 
such English visitors to Ajaccio as having wintered there do not wish to 
return for the summer to England or Switzerland ; but if this design be ever 
carried out in Corsica, it seems to me that a more lofty situation would be 

M. Giacomone proposes at 9 to go to his house, which, after the fashion of 
houses in Corsica, is better than its entrance or exterior promises, and contains 
a good suite of well-furnished rooms on the second floor ; the little bed-room 
which was shown me as that where I was to have slept had I arrived suffi- 
ciently early was perfect in its arrangement and cleanliness, and might have 
been in Paris. 

O At Santa Lucia de Tallano, a village of 700 inhabitants, I tried twice, but without success, to 
find in the ancient convent of the Franciscans the curious picture of Rinuccio della Rocca, the last of 
the great feudal lords of Corsica, represented as in the act of administering justice to the people, with 
his Genoese wife by his side. One part of the convent is now the quarters of the gendarmerie ; the rest 
of the building, let to peasants, is used as cellars. This part, it is said, was the Hall of Justice of 
Rinuccio, and the fresco was on the roof. — Valery, i., p. 206. 

The magnificent convent built at Tallano by Rinnuccio della Rocca is still in good condition.— 
Galletti, p. 159. 

Of the orbicular granite found in the neighbourhood of Tallano, and of other sorts of marble, M. 
Valery says :— These coloured, clouded, or sparkling rocks, are like the vegetation and the flowers, 
ornaments of the wild mountains of the island. Independently of their beauty, they have also some 
sort of productiveness, for many of the granites produce in abundance a certain lichen, from which 
chemistry in England extracts a splendid and unchangeable crimson dye ; this is manufactured only 
by one Glasgow house, and the exportation of this lichen amounts to the value of 100,000 francs.— 
Valay, i., p. 208. 


In the reception-room were Madame Giacomone and her eldest daughter 
— more like sisters than parent and child — dressed plainly in black, both 
good-looking, and singularly graceful and pleasant. Unlike some days in 
former travels through Abruzzo and Calabria, when the difficulty of discourse 
used to be well-nigh unconquerable, conversation is here, easy and agreeable, 
for both these ladies, though they have never been out of their native island, 
are well educated, and full of information about their own country, as well 
as of interest regarding others. 

Then we all went down-stairs, where a table was laid for eight or ten, 
exhibiting an aspect of great plenty and propriety. To each person's plate 
there were not less than six glasses, so that the Scotch minister — of whom 
it is recorded that he adapted his form of grace to what he thought the 
probable conditions of the banquet — commencing, when there were only beer 
glasses on the table, with " Bless the food of these puir miserable creatures !" 
and, on the contrary, if champagne glasses were visible, beginning in a loud 
and joyful tone with " Bountifully shower down all Thy blessings on these 
thy excellent servants!" — might have appropriately asked the latter bene- 
diction on my hosts at Tallano, even though their wines were of home 
growth. For, starting with bread and butter of the first quality, olives, 
and other etcetera, and proceeding with eels and trout, through a course 
of stews and ragouts, to plain roast fowl and mutton, and ending in creams 
and broccio ; all these, with many kinds of vegetables and fruits, were 
simply excellent, and, moreover, all derived from the possessions of these 
wealthy and hospitable people. As for the wines, they were supplied rather 
more " bountifully " than I liked : this, a white vintage, was to be tried ; that 
of red must not be neglected ; and, had I any previous doubt on the subject, 

1 should have been convinced by the experience of this morning of the 
eminently good qualities of the Corsican wines.(') Several of these are 
not unlike Burgundy, and, unless mixed with a large portion of water, are 
too strong for ordinary use ; the very best are made largely by M. Giacomone, 
and " vino di Tallano " is proverbial on the west side of the island for its 

Two younger children, Amalia and Catanna, were of the family party, 
which is really pleasant and friendly ; the two ladies are sensible and well- 
bred, and Don Giacomo, fluent on the topic of his possessions, and on the 
prospective commercial value of Tallano to England, is hearty and jovial. 

(*) In the morning I returned to breakfast at Morato with Signor Barbaggi, and had chocolate ; and 
at dinner we had no less than twelve well-drest dishes, served on Dresden china, with a dessert, different 
sorts of wine, and a liqueur, all the produce of Corsica. — Boswell, p. 280. 

At Ajaccio, a delicate white wine made in the neighbom-hood, which we thought resembled 
Chablis. — Forester. 

M. Giacomone tells me that his prices are — 2 fr. 50 c. the litre, or quart, for the wine of i860 ; 

2 fr. 25 c. for that of 1861 ; and 2 fr. for that of 1862, in the wood.— Bennet, p. 260. 


Coffee was given up-stairs, and an hour passed in drawing pictures for the 
children. Barrabattoli, as they called butterflies, were most in favour ; but 
their glee was immense at all the nonsense I scribbled for them in the shape 
of birds carrying parasols, fishes smoking pipes, &c. 

Act the last was to ascend a tower or belvedere, thence to contemplate the 
whole of the village and my host's property. Santa Lucia is in all respects 
well placed ; yet, as a landscape painter, I should prefer to live amid the ruder 
but more picturesque scenery of Sartene, in spite of the reputation Tallano is 
said to have of excelling all other valleys in Corsica for its cultivation. 

At noon, after vain attempts to resist polite offers to accompany me to the 
hotel, I took leave of the friendly M. Giacomone and his family, and set off 
for Sartene. Notwithstanding the elevation at which Santa Lucia is placed, 
it is not very picturesque from any point except that from which I drew it 
this morning. Scattered hamlets, fertile slopes, gay with the pleasant green 
of corn and vineyard, fields of blooming flax — which seen from above have 
the beautiful effect of sheets of water reflecting the blue sky — chesnut groves, 
and general woody richness, these are the characteristics of the Tallano valley, 
walled in on each side by rather monotonous hill forms, unbroken by detail, 
and somewhat wanting in interest. 

For an hour and a half the winding road descends towards the river 
Tavaria, by whose banks are large flocks of diminutive black sheep, and broad 
fields of pearly-bloomed asphodel. At 2 P.M. the valley is left, the high road 
to Ajaccio reached, and once more I am going slowly up the well-known 
ascent to Sartene. 

The beauty of foreground as well as of distance, in this part of Corsica, 
appear to me more remarkable than ever now that I revisit it ; and I gladly 
walk up the hill to enjoy the variety of picturesqueness on all sides, as well as 
to avoid hearing the cursing of the unpleasant Peter, who shall certainly go 
no farther with me than the next two days' journeys. Even my taciturn 
servant Giorgio is moved, in one of P.'s frightful paroxysms, to say, " If you 
swear so and never stop, you should provide some cotton for my master's ears 
and mine ;" to which Peter says, " Vero e : l'uomo deve esser sempre paziente ; 
ci vuol sempre pazienza— it is true : man should be always patient ; patience is 

There yet remained time before going into Sartene to make a drawing (see 
Plate y) from above the Capuchin convent, and another by the bridge, of the 
wide view westward that takes in all the landscape from the snow white 
Incudine heights, in gradations of wood and hill down to the sea ; afterwards 
I made visits to M. le Sous-Prefet and M. Vico, and then went to the Hotel 

Fatima of Sartene, out of respect to my suggestion about cleanliness, has 
actually had the whole of her room floors coloured red, and wax-polished ; and 


is delighted with my commendation of her experiments in the way of pro- 
gress. Nor, in this, my second visit here, was other fault to be found than in 
the over-abundance of her dinner — soup, trout, and lobster, boiled beef and 
artichokes, stewed veal, mutton, and olives, roast lamb and salad, cucumbers, 
butter, &c. — an oppressive amount of good things, sending away any of 
which untouched sorely vexed the good landlady. My return to her hotel 
instead of going to the other inn greatly pleases poor Fatima, and she 
volunteers conversation and confidence to a degree at once surprising and 

" Did you not," said she, enumerating one by one the hotels I had been 
to, " at Grosseto, at Olmeto, at Bonifacio, Porto Vecchio, and Solenzaro, find 
that all the hotels were kept by widows ? " 

" Yes," said I. 

" Have you written down this fact ? " 

" I have." 

" Then," said the unhappy Fatima, " write me down, too, a widow, and not 
only a widow, but mille volte piu infelice che tutte vedove — a thousand times 
more unhappy than all widows ! " 

Whereon there followed a tremendous burst of tragic eloquence in the 
highest tones, and with gestures to match, telling how, after seventeen years 
of marriage, in which she had never given her husband the smallest cause for 
discontent — la minima cagione di scontento — he had forsaken her, faithlessly 
carrying off her servant girl, and settling in Sardinia under a changed name 
in a new hotel, had left the unfortunate Fatima, like the Ossianic heroine 
before alluded to, " alone, upon the hill of storms." 

Fatima's opinion about the state of the culinary science in the other hotel 
at Sartene was sufficiently sweeping, the cook there being, according to 
her, " un disgraziato vecchio, chi forse settanta anni fa, sapeva far una frittura, 
— mai piu di cio ; ed ora nemmeno tanto — a miserable old man, who per- 
haps seventy years ago knew how to make an omelette, never anything more ; 
and now not even that." 

May 2. — At sunrise the completion of the drawing above the town occu- 
pied me till 7 A.M., when I joined the trap at the bridge, and left beautiful 
Sartene with regret. 

To-day's journey will be over no new ground. Passing the charming 
river scenes, where I spent the 18th and 19th of April, I reached the unhealthy 
village of Propriano at 8, and having made the ascent from the shore to 
Olmeto on foot, reached that place at 10.15. The walk up from the sea, six 
and a half kilometres — a steep and hot pull — is pleasant from the extreme 
beauty of the landscape — much of which cloud and bad weather had prevented 
my seeing on the 16th ultimo — where graceful olives and luxuriant green 


vegetation, flowers now in greater profusion than ever, and the universal 
melody of nightingales filling the hill sides and deep valley, are all truly 
delightful. The horses have a long day's work to-day, but though I and my 
servant almost always walk, it is not certain that they are better off on 
account of having less weight to pull, for when I am in the carriage I can 
prevent Peter from beating them, which he never neglects to do, if I give 
him an opportunity by lingering behind. At present he is to rest at least 
two hours at Olmeto, a place that seems fuller of idle people than at my 
first visit. 

On inquiring for Mr. B., I found that he had become much worse than 
when I was here on the 17th of April, and I went up to see him. It does not 
seem to me possible that he can live much longer, and this, by a message he 
begged me to take to his father in England, is evidently his own impression. 
Although he has with him an attendant who takes every care of him, and 
although he appears to have made friends among the people of Olmeto, yet 
nothing could be more sad than to see so young a man dying in so lonely and 
desolate a manner in this remote Corsican village. 

At 11.30, after a walk nearly to the top of the hill above Olmeto, where 
groups of large trees, seldom lacking in Corsica, are plentiful, a spot is easily 
found — favourable alike as a place for a sketch and for the despatch of poor 
Fatima's bountiful breakfast — surrounded by bushes peopled with nightingales, 
robins, and blackbirds, and infinitely lovely with wild flowers. 

At 12.45 P - M - I g° on > an d at Casalabriva await the trap and the ever- 
swearing Peter. All the landscape, hidden by rain and cloud at the time I first 
passed here, is now a grand outspread of " maquis "-covered hills, green down 
to the very last point and deepest dell of the valley of the Taravo, and up 
to the high wall of snow and long lines of Mont Renoso in the north and 
east ; but in all this extent there is no particular spot tempting me to linger 
and draw. 

Just beyond the village of Casalabriva a wonderful spectacle strikes the 
eye, namely, a carriage with two horses, a lady and her maid therein, going, 
like the landscape painter, to "see all Corsica." It is Miss C, who is on her 
way to Sartene and Bonifacio. We stop and discourse, the cheery nature of 
this pleasant lady being a happy set-off to the sad scene I had left at the sick 
man's house in Olmeto. I recommend the lonely Fatima to Miss C.'s 
notice, but, unluckily, she has already written to secure rooms at the other 
inn ; and so, as in the words of the song — 

" Too soon we part with pain, 
To drive o'er dusty roads again, " 

Miss C. continuing to profess herself incredulous as to the safety of my 
luggage, and still predicting that some indefinite woe will befall me on account 


of my employing Peter, of whom, now that I am experienced as to his 
character, certainly very little good may be expected. 

The descent of Bicchisano follows, and that village is reached at 2.40. 
Some of the ilex-grown dells on the way are indeed beautiful, but in the great 
valley of the Taravo, though it is full of innumerable studies, few views of 
general interest can be selected, and the landscape is of a nature exacting 
long term of study for individual detail. Towards the bridge over the Taravo 
there are many lovely pictures which would delight the eye, and give work 
for the pencil of Creswick, who (so it seems to me) is the best portrayer 
(after Turner) of river and wood scenery combined. A walk along this stream 
is one succession of park landscapes, and the thick foliaged white-armed 
ilex-trees, so mingled with granite rocks and the foaming river, would even 
be more beautiful were there snow on the hills to form a contrast with the 
dark bosky hollows.^) 

Once only during the afternoon, at a place where two or three houses 
(called by Peter, Bagni di Surbalaconi), combine with the fine bridge and the 
high road to indicate the vicinity of man, do I see any human life ; here there 
is a little boy tending some goats. Peter, who is somewhat ahead, having 
dropped the apron of the carriage, the small boy picks it up, runs after the 
trap to give it him, and returns to his goats ; whereon I offer him the super- 
fluity of Fatima's breakfast — to wit, two loaves of bread. But these are 
rejected with a solemn and decided shake of the head by the child ; who, 
however, on my telling him that though white, they are really good bread, takes 
them after a time gravely, and thenceforth appears to think that he ought to 
do something in return. " Perhaps," says he, " you might be pleased to know 
the names of my goats : one is Black-nose, another Silver-spot, that is Grey- 
foot, and this is Cippo. Cippo is quite the best goat in these parts, and likes 
to be talked to — come un Cristiano — just like a Christian — perhaps, even if 
you stand still, she may let you scratch the end of her nose, and I will call her 
at once if you choose to try." After which gratifying information the small 
boy prattles about the state of the corn, and the good it has gained from the 
last rains, with a quiet intelligence, and at the same time with a want of 
vivacity peculiar to Corsican life ; until at a by-lane he says, " The goats must 
go down here ; so addio !" — and exit. 

At 6.30 P.M. I am once more at the little Hotel des Amis, kept by the 
Widow Lionardi (see page 37), at Grosseto ; the village, with its houses half 
hidden among large trees, has a quiet, rural character that greatly charms me, 
and the inn is by no means an unwelcome place of rest. Just after I arrive, a 
sudden confusion takes place, which, thirty years ago, would doubtless have 
occasioned a Vendetta ; a little boy throws a large stone at a little girl with 

(') In Corsica the ilex, or evergreen oak, is very common, and gives the country a cheerful look, 
even in the depth of winter. — Boswell, p. 45. 


whom he quarrels, and knocks out her two front teeth, besides disfiguring 
her face ; screams resound, the mother of the girl pursues the boy, the neigh- 
bours join in the clamour, and there is every prospect of a fight (worthy of the 
Henrietta-street colony at the back of my London rooms), when gendarmes 
interfere, and forcibly wind up the commotion ; as a " moral " or finale to 
which, the mother of the injured girl inflicts a violent chastisement on her 
small daughter, either to teach her a better choice of companions, or to impress 
her with the fact that the saying, " misfortunes never come single," is a solemn 

The Widow Lionardi, to her dinner of stewed veal, trout, and roast lamb, 
adds a dish of " fiardoni," or cakes made of pastry and broccio — in other 
words, cheesecakes, or as they are called in Crete, KprjTitca Mi<7c6p67rore. 



Ilex Woods of Grosseto — Return to Cauro — Mdme. Paoloni's Good Cheer — Set out for Bastelica — Peter 
the Coachman's ill treatment of his Horses — Ministers of Finance — Woody Valley — Charcoal 
Burners — Extent of "Maquis" — Forest House and Mill — Peter, being left to his own devices, cruelly 
beats his Horses — They back to the edge of the Precipice, into which they and the Carriage fall — 
Fulfilment of Miss C.'s Predictions — Assistance procured from the Forest House — The Painter 
walks on to Bastelica, and returns with a Car and Mules — Situation of Bastelica — Well-bred 
Children — Night passed in the Forest House — Return by a Mule Car to Cauro and Ajaccio — 
Stay at the Hotel de Londres — M. Lambert — Plans to visit the great Forests of A'itone, and 
Valdoniello, and the Greek Colony — M. Gery, the Prefet of Corsica — Search for a second Carriage, 
and hire one from Jean Carburo the Vaudois — Dinner at thelPrefecture — Leave Ajaccio for the 
Forests and North- West Coasts — Flora the Dog, and Domenico the new Driver — Ascent to, and 
View from San Sebastiano — Calcatoggio : Descent to Sea Shore — Mid-day Halt — Valley and 
Plain of the Liamone — Sagona — Promontory of Carghese — The Village Hotel — The Greek Priest 
and the Colony — Cultivation of the neighbouring Lands — Greek seldom spoken now at Carghese — 
Growth of Cactus — Papa Michele's Information — Gardens and Nightingales — Cheerful Aspect of 
Carghese — The "Greek" Church — The Gendarmerie, and Introductions to Persons at the Forests 
— Leave Carghese — Mountain Scenery, and Green "Maquis" — Magnificent Views about La Piana — 
The Village, and its clean and good little Inn. 

May 3. — The Hotel des Amis, Widow Lionardi's unpretending little inn, is 
so good and comfortable that it would be a capital central head-quarters for 
study to a landscape painter. Leaving it at sunrise, and sending on Peter to 
the Bocco, or Col San Giorgio, I made a drawing of the village from a little 
way up the hill ; the top of the church tower is golden in the rising sun, and 
all the brown and shadowy depths of ilex — as beautiful a feature in the fore- 
ground of this valley as are the green splendour and softness of the distance 
below the farthest range of the hills near Bicchisano — are particularly delightful 
at this calm, early hour ; a world of quiet, save for the song of nightingales 
and the fresh sound of running streamlets. {See Vignette, p. 1 10.) 

By 7.40 A.M. the top of the col San Giorgio is reached, and the wayside inn 
at Cauro by 8.30, where three hours are allotted for baiting the horses and 
breakfast. After I have been down the hill as far as Barraconi to make a 
drawing there, which I could not get on the cloudy evening of April 15th, I 
shall go on to Bastelica for the night, and back to Ajaccio to-morrow. 

At 9.30, having terminated my Barraconi drawing, I am once again at 
Mdme. Angela Paoloni's hotel, where there are still some of the party of 
officials who were here at the time of my first visit ; I have now, however, been 
long enough in Corsica to avoid mistakes. These gentlemen give me several 
valuable hints as to parts of the island to which I have not yet been. M. 
Chauton, a " continental," has, they say, a great establishment for cutting and 
transport of trees at Valdoniello, and they recommend me to procure an 
introduction to him in order to see what they affirm is the most magnificent of 



[May 3. 

all Corsican forests (though secretly I believe there can be none so fine as 
Bavella). A carriage road, I am told, leads to Aitone and Valdoniello from 
Evisa, either by way of Porto or Vico. 

Mdme. Paoloni's breakfast of trout and beefsteak, brains and caper-sauce, 
Irish-stew, broccio, &c, good in quality and profuse in quantity, is, as usual, a 
curious contrast to the stairs and entry of her hotel, and is accompanied by 


the usual careful and obliging manners of Corsican innkeepers. When I leave 
the house the hostess says, " Do not pay me now, but stop as you return, and 
pay then." 

" But, not so," I reply, " for who can tell what may happen ? Suppose I 
should die at Bastelica ; you would then lose your money." 

" In that case," says Mdme. Paoloni, " although we are poor, and should 
miss your money, we should not feel the loss so much, because our sorrow for 
your death would be greater." 

Shortly after noon I went on towards Bastelica, which is twenty kilometres 
distant. Peter the oathful, who this morning has had some very bad fits of 
swearing and beating, but who is at present in a comparatively placid mood, 


says, " At these villages I am very often asked who you are, and I always say 
you are the Ministro delle Finanze — the Finance Minister of England." 

" But why," said I, " do you say such a thing ? " 

" Oh, partly because you wear spectacles, and have an air of extreme 
wisdom, and partly because one must say something or other." 

A Minister of Finance seems to be grim Peter's beau ideal of earthly 
grandeur, and he has frequently spoken of having accompanied the illustrious 
M. Abbattucci, late Minister of Finance, to the country residence of that 
personage at Zicavo. Now, as I was particularly in want of information con- 
cerning the road thither, I asked him one day, " Did M. Abbattucci make 
the journey by Sta. Maria Zicche, or by the village of Bicchisano ? " 

"He went by Grosseto to Sta. Maria," was the reply. 

" But," said I, " as the way from Ajaccio to Zicavo is long, where did the 
minister stop, at Grosseto, or is there any other midway inn ? " 

" By no means," said Peter, " non si fermo punto, andava a giorno e notte — 
— he stopped nowhere, but travelled day and night. Era mortissimo — he 
was quite dead — that Minister of Finance — e non era che sue cenere che si 
portava — it was only his ashes that I took to Zicavo." 

Long ascents, varied by portions of level ground, lead along the hill sides ; 
the road is good and broad, but like other " Routes Forestieres," without a 
parapet on the sides towards the valley, up which, clothed luxuriantly with 
" maquis" and larger trees, the eye looks to the snowy heights at the end of it, 
immediately above the village of Bastelica ; as a whole, the picture is grand 
and beautiful, but possessing no particular beauty of detail. I walk up the 
ascent, to give the brutal Peter as little excuse as possible for maltreating his 
horses, who go on slowly, but regularly, if left to themselves. It is a pleasure 
to think that to-morrow I shall get rid of this man, and, meanwhile, though I 
or my servant are generally able to prevent his inhuman treatment, this is not 
always possible, as, accompanying the act with torrents of maledictions, he 
will sometimes, quite unexpectedly, strike the horses so fiercely as to make 
them back three or four paces. 

About 1.40 the valley grows somewhat narrower; bright streams of water 
fall from the hill side to join the river below, the tall heath, full of white 
blossom, reminds me of the shores of Albania, near Porto Tre Scoglie, and all 
along the route the clothing of these Corsican mountains never ceases to be a 
charm and a wonder, for there are spreading woods of ilex, and a thick carpet 
of " maquis " right and left. The top of the first ascent is reached about 3, at 
the tenth kilometre, when a level bit of road succeeds. The only life seen 
since leaving Cauro is in a group of charcoal burners, not to speak of twenty 
pigs revelling in a shallow pool of water. The charcoal burners talk with a 
vivacity very singular for Corsicans ; but forthwith I find them to be Italians 
from the neighbourhood of Lucca. 


At kilometre eleven and a half is a neat little forest house and a mill. The 
guardiano and his family, sitting outside their dwelling, make a picture, com- 
bined with groups of trees and the beautiful river, here close below the high- 
way, and dashing foamily over its worn stones. Beyond this point the road 
makes a sharp turn, and for the moment Peter is lost sight of. Latterly his 
swearing has been so horrible, and his cruelty so odious, that I have thought 
at times that he is not quite sane ; consequently, I have walked nearer the 
carriage, and it was only by the accident of my having stopped a little while 
at the forest house, to make some inquiries about the distance, that he had got 
considerably ahead, for here the ascent is not steep. 

But on turning the corner of the road just mentioned there was a shocking 
sight, and one that became more so at each moment. Taking this opportunity 
of being alone Peter had given way to a burst of rage and violent blows with 
his whip handle on the poor beasts' heads. In vain did both I and Giorgio 
shout, running forward. Even then the carriage stood at right angles to the 
side of the road, and not far from the edge of it, above the river, while at 
every blow the poor horses backed nearer to the ravine. 

One more blow — carriage and horses are quite at the side of the pre- 
cipice ! 

Yet one more blow, struck with an infernal scream from bad Peter, and 
the horses back for the last time ! And then 

Down, down, go all into the ravine ! 

Nothing was left on the road but the abominable old fellow, kneeling, and 
wailing to the Madonna and all the saints, whom a minute before he had 
been blaspheming. 

I ran back to the corner of the road, whence I could see the forest house, 
to alarm the inhabitants ; and, directly, they set off on the way up to help. 
Meanwhile, the Suliot was already down the steep. Happily, the hill side at 
this spot, the twelfth kilometre, is not nearly so precipitous as it is at a few 
yards distance either way, and a cluster of large chesnut trees had stopped 
the carriage and horses from rolling downward to the stream. One of the 
poor beasts was, notwithstanding, killed on the spot ; the other, which G. had 
managed to extricate, was dreadfully lacerated by a sharp rock. The car- 
riage, as may be supposed, was broken in pieces, and the luggage — literally 
fulfilling Miss C.'s prediction — had rolled further down, among the rocks and 

The zeal with which the forester, his son, and friends, worked to get up 
the " roba " and the remaining horse, was most praiseworthy ; and seeing so 
much energy where I had expected apathy, I internally resolved to be less hasty 
in future in characterising Corsicans as lazy, on account of their being undemon- 
strative. By 4 all the " roba " had been carried up, and was in a pile by the 
road-side, as were the splintered portions of the vehicle ; but what was now to 


be done ? At Bastelica, still eight kilometres ahead, they say that a car may 
be got ; and to send on the forester's son (a lad of sixteen or seventeen) 
at once seems the best plan, so that he may bring a car — or, if none can 
be obtained, mules — that I may then either go on to Bastelica, or back to 
Cauro, as circumstances may direct. The youth, Domenico Casanova, there- 
fore sets off running ; and later I resolve to walk on to Bastelica, for if 
that should not prove a place in which there is much work for my pencil, 
then I can return here with the mule-cart, or, if otherwise, pass the night 
there ; the luggage, meanwhile, and the ruins of the carriage, will be well 
cared for by Giorgio, and by the good people who have been helping me 
so energetically. 

From the thirteenth kilometre, which I passed at 4.15, the road up the 
valley commands views of a fine solitude of pine woods and far snowy heights, 
and at the eighteenth kilometre- 1 am able to make a sketch of the village, 
which stands very high, and is seen from the midst of luxuriant chesnut 
groves. Bastelica, in the summer time must, indeed, be a delightful place, 
embosomed, as it is, in foliage below its lofty mountain amphitheatre. ( ! ) 

On reaching the village before 6, by a steep ascent at the nineteenth and 
a half kilometre from Cauro, I found three mules being put to one of the long 
carts used by the peasantry, and the forester's son actively hastening the 
operation. And as I had ascertained that I could do little so far as regards 
making -a view of the very straggling village of Bastelica beyond what I 
had already done, and as a clear full moon is shining, I decide on returning 
in the jolting-car to the forest-house, and perhaps to get on as far as Cauro 
to-night, which place the diligence passes at 7 A.M. to-morrow. Bastelica, I 
perceive, should be seen when the chesnut-tree is in full leaf, for without that 
its principal characteristic is wanting. 

While Domenico went to get some eggs and wine (as it is by no means 
certain that his father's house contains eatables), I talk with the villagers, a 
large number of whom crowded round me. The propriety of conduct in 
these rustics strikes me very forcibly ; the absence of all clamour and 
rudeness, and the good sense of their observations on my replying to their 
questions concerning the accident, are as remarkable as the intelligence 
which is in all their countenances. Every one of the children, too, of whom 

(') Bastelica, which reckons 2,400 inhabitants, passes for the most considerable village in Corsica. 
At Domenicacce, a hamlet close by, is the house called the Tower of Sampiero, with the date, 1546. — 
Valery, i., p. 187. 

Farther to the north of Cauro lies the great canton of Bastelica, which is separated by a mountain 
chain from that of Zicavo. This rugged mountain land is the native place of Sampiero. In 
Bastelica, or rather in the small hamlet of Domini caccia, they still show the black gloomy house where 
he was born ; for his own house was pulled down by the Genoese under Stephen Doria. All the people 
of this valley are distinguished by a strong build and martial physiognomy ; they are principally herds- 
men ; rugged men, with the iron manners of their forefathers, and quite unaffected by culture. — 
Gregorovius, p. 411. 


there are many, is well conducted. I find they are taught French as well 
as Italian, and that the more advanced could read and write in both 
languages ; so grave and well-bred a lot of little fellows one would not 
expect to find in such a remote place. 

Pasquale, the driver of the mule-cart, was ready to start at 6.30, but I 
walked down the hill as far as a cottage, where there was a halt, " in order," 
said the man of Bastelica, " to take up something he had to convey to Cauro." 
This something proved to be two immense bags, which, when lifted on to the 
narrow car, occupied more than half its space, though that was not of such 
importance as the fact that they tainted the air with the most horrible odours, 
proceeding, as I soon found, from the contents, which were old rags. This 
episode occasioned some delay, for I would neither have the rags nor the 
owner, and I was compelled, before the matter was settled, to tell the 
driver that our bargain was at an end, unless I could have the car to 
myself. And when the rag-bags were finally ejected, the anger of the rag-man 
was exceedingly funny. " It is plain," he said, " that you know nothing of 
Corsica. Probably you never heard that Napoleon Buonaparte, the greatest 
man in all the world, was born here. The oldest and dirtiest rags are 
honourable here, and you should be grateful for smelling and touching 

This delay made it 7 P.M before we were off, but the car jolted rapidly 
down the hill, and the moon gave a light like day ; by 8 we were at the ill- 
fated twelfth kilometre, where there was nothing now left but splinters of the 
carriage, and shortly afterwards arrived at the forest lodge, to which all the 
" roba " had been removed. Here, for I had had enough of jolting and walking 
for one day, I decided on remaining the night, and to go on as early as I could 
to-morrow to Ajaccio ; so the camp-bed was put up, and the eggs, and bread 
and wine were the dinner, to which the good-natured forester added some 
onions and broccio, after frying the eggs with alacrity. 

The guardiano, Stefano Casanova, is a civil and pleasant fellow, and his 
wife a good, bustling, tidy body ; they are from Evisa, about which place they 
give me various information, and declare that the pines of A'itone are the most 
surprising in the world, " so much so," says M. Casanova, by a powerful 
metaphor, "that the only possible way to see their tops is to lie down flat 
on your back and look up into the sky." More obliging people I could not 
have chanced to meet with ; how hard they worked with G. to get up the 
" roba " and horse ! how quickly their son Domenico had gone to Bastelica, 
and how busily, while constantly worrying the slow Pasquale to bestir himself, 
he had managed to get the car and mules ready ! 

I should be glad, were it possible, to return to Bastelica before leaving 
Corsica ; its position, in a kind of cul-de-sac, below some of the highest moun- 
tains, is fine, and although, owing to its form — being a very scattered village — 


it does not appear to contain many houses, it is in reality one of the largest in 
the island. 

May 4, 4.30 A.M. — The rushing river below this little forest-house reminds 
me of many nights' lodgings in Switzerland, particularly of one by the falls of 
the Aar ; and, doubtless, had I not had my invaluable camp-bed here, other 
and livelier objects of similarity would not be wanting. 

I went up the hill to the scene of yesterday's catastrophe ; except the 
trampled bushes and splinters of broken wheels, &c. there is little sign of what 
took place — the last struggle of the poor falling horses will not be so easily 
effaced from my memory. As I returned to the forest-house the odious Peter, 
who has hitherto carefully kept out of my way, accidentally met me, and to him 
I delivered a short moral discourse on the general impropriety of anger, and 
the particular evil of profane swearing, in reply to which that impish individual 
only said, " Oh, mi lasci ! mi lasci ! ci vuol sempre la pazienza ; la piu buona 
cosa e la pazienza — leave me ! leave me ! patience is always necessary ; the 
best of all things is patience." So I did leave him, and I truly hope I may 
never again see his unpleasant face. 

At 5.30 Pasquale and the jolt-car were ready, and G. had packed all the 
"roba" on it, so, having given the worthy Casanova couple some money for 
their boy Domenico to buy what he liked with, jolting began forthwith, and 
in two hours Cauro was reached, Madame Angela Paoloni gazing from her 
window in extreme surprise at my third appearance, as I passed her door in 
a travelling guise so different to that of my two former visits. At Barraconi 
there was a halt of half an hour to bait the mules, a time I employed in looking 
about the beautiful valley of Suarella {see vignette, page 32), so historically 
interesting as the scene of the death of Sampiero. The Campo di Loro, 
clouded and obscured when I had passed it on April 15, seemed to me now 
most beautiful, the broad green meadows and tall poplars harmonising well 
with the distant snowy range beyond. By 1 1 Ajaccio was reached, the ungainly 
mule-car and its driver paid and dismissed, and Ottavi's hotel once more 
made head-quarters. And thus ends the first "fytte " of Corsican travel. (') 

There were letters to read and to write, and in the afternoon a drawing to 
finish on the delightful hill beyond the grotto. Now that all the ridges and 
hollows on the southern part of those opposite mountains are familiar to me, 
with what a different interest is this scene, so charming even before, invested ! 

{ l ) Between the pretty and picturesque villages of Suarella and Eccica, a well-grounded tradition 
indicates the spot where Sampiero perished, January 17, 1567. One arrives at the place where his death 
occurred by a wild path along the banks of a torrent. Near at hand are the ruins, mingled with olive 
and ilex trees, of the castle of Giglio, where Sampiero had passed the night, and where he had questioned 
and caused to be put to death a peasant convicted of intelligence with the Genoese. — Valery, p. 185. 

On a rock in the vicinity are seen the ruins of the castle of Giglio, where Sampiero had passed the 
night before he met his death. I looked about in vain for any monument to remind the traveller that in 
this awful place the greatest of all Corsican heroes fell—Grtgorozvus, p. 407. 

I 2 


There, high up the hill, is Cauro, there to the left of it is the pass to Col San 
Giorgio, and there, across the ridge, are the high snow hills beyond Grosseto ; 
there, too, are the heights of Bastelica. 

May 5. — Soon after sunrise I am drawing at the grotto hill, overlooking 
garden and shrubbery, down to the calm gulf and silver-topped mountains ; 
and on so lovely a morning as this it seems to me that imagination could 
picture no scene more beautiful. 

Later, on calling at Dr. Ribton's, I find that my friends the J. S.'s are not 
only gone, but that they have been heard of from Pisa ; their transit from this 
side of the island to the other having been of the unluckiest, in a fierce storm 
of rain and wind, and with the addition of their carriage having been upset 
before reaching Corte. 

Nor are the chances very favourable for my own progress in seeing the 
rest of Corsica ; for, first, M. Galloni d'Istria, who had so ably and kindly 
helped me with introductions in my first tour, has gone to Italy ; and, 
secondly, although the Prefet, M. Gery, has returned from France, he has 
met with a bad accident in leaving the steamer, and is laid up ; and, 
thirdly, my servant Giorgio has a fit of fever, possibly owing to chill after the 
hard work in the Bastelica ravine two days ago. As a set-off against all this, 
I make the acquaintance of M. Lambert (the commandant of gendarmerie in 
the arrondissement of Ajaccio), who dines in the rooms of the Ottavi hotel. 
This gentleman most ably enters into my plans of seeing more of the island, 
and offers me letters should I go to the western side — to Carghese, and to the 
agent of M. Chauton at the great forests of Aitone and Valdoniello ; or, if I 
go to Bastia, to Bocognano and other places. This may remedy my two 
first grievances, the absence of M. Galloni, and of the Prefet ; patience and 
quinine may bring back the Suliot to working condition. Nor do I myself 
neglect to take some preventive and precautionary quinine, for after the air 
of the high mountains, this of Ajaccio seems warm and relaxing. 

Writing letters filled up the rest of this day. 

May 6. — An early walk along the shore to the cemetery. In spite of all 
the beauty of colour, and the gaiety of flowers, broom, honeysuckle, and rose 
cystus, and of the immense luxuriance of vegetation and elegance of foliage, a 
grave melancholy seems to me to be ever the character of Ajaccio scenery. 
Those circling snow-topped hills at the head of the gulf, that long barrier line 
on its southern side, and the absence of much life or movement either on land 
or water, all contribute to this impression, and tinge the landscape, lovely as 
beyond doubt it is, with somewhat of the mournful. 

At mid-day, on calling at the Prefecture, to learn how M. Gery is going on, 
his daughter, a most fascinating little girl — who speaks English well, owing to 


having been under the care of an English lady, her governess, from a child — 
comes into the hall to say that her father, though suffering much and unable 
to leave a sofa, wishes to see me. Had I expected to find the Governor of 
the island — of the Departement de la Corse — a formidable official, I should 
have been much deceived ; but I had previously heard of M. Gery as a person 
not less known for his ability and for the high positions he has filled than for 
the kindness of his disposition and for the charm of his conversation. He 
enters with warmth into all the details concerning that portion of the island I 
have already seen, sketches out a second and third tour for me, promises me 
abundance of letters to places guiltless of inns, and finally invites me to dine 
at the Prefecture to-morrow. Thus, I return to the hotel with a new source of 
thanks to M. Merimee, whose good-nature procured me an introduction of 
such value. 

In the course of to-day Miss C. returns from her southern trip to Sartene 
and Bonifacio, and triumphs, though -far from ill-naturedly, at the fulfilment 
of her predictions about my carriage. We quite agree about the fine 
qualities of the scenery we have both visited ; Miss C. has been up to 
Zicavo, and through the forests of Marmano and Sorba, whereas, although 
I have not seen these, I have been to Bavella, which she has not, and I 
steadfastly declare that, Bavella unseen, she has seen nothing — less than 

G.'s fever is not much better to-day ; but as I have long been an expert 
fever-doctor, I believe that two or three days will bring him round. Miss C. 
and Dr. R. stop their ears when I venture to speak of fever ; yet sickness is a 
fact, and there are moments when my servant's illness, added to the difficulty I 
find in procuring another carriage and horses for my next start, makes a gloomy 
side to the picture, and half inclines me to return by next Saturday's boat to 
Nice, leaving the remainder of Corsica to be portrayed in that far off inde- 
finite time when I may wind up my journeys in Crete, Palestine, Syria, and 
other only-in-part-visited places. 

May 7. — All the morning is rainy — propitious time for letter-writing — and 
the day is passed in making calls, and in searching for a carriage and horses, 
&c, till at 6 P.M. dining at the Prefecture adds another to the pleasant 
memories already afforded me by Corsica. Miss C. was there, as well as several 
other persons, and the excellence of M. le Prefet's table is as distinguished 
as the friendly and social character of the party and the pleasant conversation 
of the guests. Afterwards, other persons, mostly in official positions, came in, 
and a collection of photographs of the chief or most interesting places of 
Corsica was exhibited. Some of these photographs were of the finest I have 
seen ; but it is not easy to procure copies of them, as only three perfect 
sets, for the Emperor, Prince Napoleon, and the Prefet, were struck off, 


when the photographer, owing to some pique, withdrew the whole from 
public circulation. 

May 8. — The mountains here have taken to invisible ways, and refuse 
to appear. 

The search for a carriage continues, and Giovanni Carburo the Vaudois, 
who lets out vehicles, and is recommended by Miss C, shows me, besides 
other traps heavier and more expensive, a sort of double-seated car for two 
horses, which I may have for seventeen francs a day, and am to try later in 
the morning. It proves, however, far too shaky, and is rejected, so that the 
matter of vehicles is once more in nubibus. 

Passed the afternoon on the hill near the grotto drawing cactus ; the 
warbling of nightingales is truly delightful, till gendarme target practice, 
with infantry.bugling and drumming commence — then 

" The nightingale said, ' I have sung many songs, 
But never ' " 

will I sing any more if this horrid hubbub continues — and thenceforth the 
voices of birds were hushed. My work, too, is stopped by rain, and the 
landscape painter becomes indisposed for further Corsican travel, and resolves 
at length to leave further decision till to-morrow. One thing is certain, 
that a good trap and horses are a sine qua 11011 if I am to visit the rest of 
the island. " Na tcd/buys oveipov, Kvpie," says the Suliot, whose fever is 
departing — " decide by dreaming, Sir." 

In the evening the pleasant M. Lambert, who has many remembrances of 
Zante and Cerigo, Milo and Cyprus, brings a letter of introduction which he has 
written for me to a friend at Casabianda ; but I think it will be best to visit all the 
western side of Corsica first, and M. Lambert promises letters to-morrow, should 
I procure a carriage, to facilitate my visit to the great forests, where, without 
some personal recommendation, little can be done. If I succeed in completing 
my tours in the west of the island I can proceed across it to Bastia, and go 
back to Nice from that port, if time does not allow of a third visit to Ajaccio. 

May 9. — The morning is hot and misty, and the mountains hidden in 
clouds prophetic of rain. 

The first thing to be attended to to-day is an examination of such carriages 
as are on hire, as I have finally resolved to go if possible to the great forests 
of A'itone and Valdoniello, and Vico, a tour which I hear can be very well 
managed in a week, the longest space of time I can give to it. And after 
looking at several vehicles, all more or less unsuitable, and the owners of which 
manifest a great carelessness as to whether they are employed or not, I hire 
the only one left, belonging to the Vaudois Jean, a roomy, good trap, which I 
am to have at twenty francs a day, all expenses of the driver included. 


Next, I call on M. Lambert, who, in spite of all his busy occupation, 
has found time to write a note to the Chef de Gendarmerie at Carghdse\ 
M. Chauton, the lessee of part of the great government forest of Valdoniello, 
who has an establishment both there and near the coast at Porto, is unluckily 
away from Ajaccio at present, but, says M. Lambert, a nephew of one of the 
gendarmes at Cargh6s6 is M. Chauton's agent at Porto, and will send me on 
to the upper station. 

At 9 A.M. Jean Vaudois comes to see that all is in order for my new start ; 
the ponies seem good and the carriage comfortable, the luggage well fastened 
behind and carefully covered, only, the box-seat being now filled up with 
sacks of barley — an improvement which Miss C. does not fail to remark, and 
which at least indicates more care for the horses than was shown by swearing 
Peter — my man has to sit inside. The new driver is a Corsican youth named 
Domenico, of Napoleonic and grave aspect, and the party is completed 
by a small spotty dog of amiable and watchful deportment, called Flora, who 
examines the carriage and luggage with an evident expression of certainty 
that she is the head and moving spring of the whole arrangement. Miss C, 
who is looking out of Ottavi's window, begs me to send word as to progress 
or success, and as we set off, Giovanni Vaudois suggests that if I do not care 
to go as far as Carghese" to-night I may sleep at Sagona. 

The way lies through Ajaccio and past the Villa Bacciocchi as far as the 
southern road to Sartene and Bonifacio, when the highway to Corte and 
Bastia is followed to the fifth kilometre, there the road to Vico strikes of! to 
the left, and shortly beyond it another way to that place leads on the right 
hand through Sari. Almost up to the commencement of the Vico road, where 
a fine many-arched aqueduct is a picturesque addition to the landscape, the 
neighbourhood of Ajaccio is a continued garden of cherry and mulberry 
plantations, but afterwards such cultivation becomes more rare as the road 
winds away among pleasant, rounded, low hills, where the familiar fern, white 
blossomed cystus, and asphodel, gradually take the place of fruit trees and 
corn-fields. The great precipitous heights which show so finely from the end 
of the Gulf of Ajaccio are passed on the right as you climb a hill range, and 
after a dip down to a green valley, a long and steep ascent follows to Bocca 
San Sebastiano, which is reached at noon, the road thither being carried very 
high along the side of the lofty hills, which are cultivated in patches, and not 
remarkable for beauty of form. 

At the Bocca, or summit, where there is a single roadside house, nothing is 
to be seen to-day, owing to the thick misty weather, except a vast indication 
of mountains mostly hidden by rolling clouds, and it seems to me that even 
had the landscape been visible, its extent would have been too great to allow 
of its being drawn as a whole. Lower down, however, on the other side of 
the pass, the Gulf of Sagona, with abundance of those long points and capes 


so characteristic of Corsican west coast scenery, would have been worth a halt 
had the morning been fine ; on one of these promontories Carghese, already 
seen from the sea on April 9, is pointed out. 

The winding descent towards the gulf from Bocca San Sebastiano is 
beautiful, all the more so from some showers of rain and effects of cloud 
shadows. The village of Calcatoggio stands above the road, and from it all 
is vineyard and garden, fig, pear, and cherry orchard, nearly down to the sea, 
where against the rocks of white granite that border the little bay of Liscia, 
the quiet waves beat lazily along the lonely shore. (*) Here, 1.15 P.M., about the 
twenty-ninth kilometre from Ajaccio, at a small wayside house, is to be the 
mid-day halt for two hours, for the not over-clean " Repos des Voyageurs," as 
the hut is labelled, is avoided for a spot more fitted for drawing and breakfast 
among the boulders and cystus-growth a little way up the hill, whence the 
view of the gulf, widespread towards the west, is grand and solitary. 

Beyond the little bay of Liscia and the tower-crowned promontory on its 
northern side, whence Carghese is now clearly seen, the road descends into 
the valley or small plain of the river Liamone, a considerable stream, flowing 
from the western base of Monte Rotondo and the neighbourhood of Guagno.( 2 ) 
The valley of the Liamone is a level of green corn as far as eye can see to 
the foot of the hills ; and the river, crossed by a good bridge, reaches the sea 
through marshes gay with yellow iris. Beyond it the road leads through what 
resemble "cuttings" of wrinkled cretaceous rock, crowned with wind-bent lentisk 
or schinos, now and then passing quiet coves of pure sand edged with granite 
rocks, whence you look down on to the wide solemn gulf beyond, till one more 
Genoese tower is left behind, and Sagona, the port of Vico, is reached at 
4 P.M.( 3 ) Whatever may have been the condition of this place in the days 
when it was the seat of a bishopric, and possessed a cathedral, few traces of its 
former state remain now, some six or eight square buildings, like warehouses, 
and one " boat on the bay," being all its present signs of life. 

( 1 ) Concerning Calcatoggio there is an ancient saying, 

Calcatoggio, Calcatoggio, 

Mala cena e peggio alloggio ! 
(Calcatoggio, travellers' curse, 
Supper bad and lodging worse !) 


( 2 ) Between Arbori, a village of 400 inhabitants, and the river of Liamone, stood the castle of the 
illustrious Jean Paul de Leca. This historic building, placed on a rock, still preserves its cisterns and 
drawbridge. — Vakry, i., p. 112. 

One has to ford the River Liamone, a torrent, &c. — Valery, L, p. 108. 

( 3 ) The Gulf of Sagona is magnificent. Formerly, the town was splendid, and there are still some 
remains of the palace and of the ancient cathedral, of which the sacristy still exists, and serves as a 
shelter to peasants. — Valery, i. , p. 107. 

I looked for some trace of the ruins of the ancient town of Sagona, but in vain — all has disappeared 
from the soil, and the small ruined church which exists belongs to the middle ages. Nevertheless, the 
town of Sagona did flourish at the end of this fine gulf, and though it has long ceased to exist, it 
always preserved the title of the episcopal city of the island until 1801, when the whole of Corsica 
was included in a single bishopric. — Galletti, p. 136. 


The highway, now a winding road, follows the shore from point to point, 
till it climbs the last hills before you reach the promontory of the Greek 
colony. Here cultivation increases, and the view over the broad placid gulf 
of Sagona is very fine ; so I send on Domenico to the village hotel, and 
stop for an hour to draw. The hills around, of no great height, are well 
formed, and covered with corn and olive growth quite to the sea. Over all 
this Carghese coast broods a kind of lonely classic grandeur, which the usual 
scarcity of life in Corsica gives full leisure for contemplating — the promontory 
and little bay, with coves of white sand, and " curving lines of creamy spray," 
then the broad gulf, and beyond that, the long line of hills forming the 
northern side of the gulf of Ajaccio, " all barred with long white clouds the 
scornful crags," at half their height throughout. 

Carghese, which you come upon all at once by a sudden turn of the road, 
is a larger place than I had expected to see, and is built with regular streets 
at right angles to each other. Several scattered houses, among them the hotel 
and the old Greek church are by the side of the high road, which here crosses 
the cape of Carghese ; but the chief part of the village stands lower down, facing 
the south ; the Latin church, and a second Greek building, large and unfinished, 
are in the farther part of the settlement, nearer the end of the promontory, 
and the whole forms a singular and picturesque scene, greatly interesting to 
me from what I had heard of the migration of these Greek settlers from the 
Morea, and of the persecution which had at one time made their adopted land 
little less undesirable than their own.(') 

I had told my Suliot servant not to speak Greek at first, by way of having 
some merriment when our knowledge of their language came to be suddenly 
known ; but this plan fell through by my own inattention ; for from a window of 
one of the first houses I pass, there looks out a Greek priest with a venerable 
beard and the well-known cap, who makes me a bow and waves his hand, to 
which salute I unthinkingly reply, " KaXrj eras rj/juepal — good morning!" and 
naturally elicit "Ilcbsl dfuXeire Pay/jLa'i/ca? — what! do you speak Romaic?" 
for, in the days when these Greeks came to Corsica, \ 'EXX^vlkt} yXcoacra was 
unknown as such. 

( 9 ) Carghese, says Valery, writing in 1833, is an agreeable village, built regularly in an amphitheatrical 
form above the sea, and planted with fine mulberry trees. It was founded by M. de Marboeuf, and 
peopled by the Greek colony which had, about 1676, sought refuge in Corsica. In this village of 600 
souls they speak at once good Greek, Italian, and French. The chief of the colony was called 
Constantin Stephanopoulos ; some of his descendants still inhabit Carghese and Ajaccio, and rank among 
the first families of the island. The fugitive Greeks found in a foreign land, from their jealous 
neighbours the mountaineers of Niolo and the labourers of Vico, somewhat of the violent oppression 
and spoliation which they would have had to encounter in their own country. Twice they were 
compelled to forsake Carghese, in order to seek an asylum in Ajaccio, and in 1814 they again lost a 
part of their property. These Greeks, independently of their language, have retained their habits 
and religious rites ; but the national costume which they had formerly preserved has disappeared, and 
the trace of their Greek origin is found alone in their eyes and countenances. The contrast of Greek 
civilisation, careful, industrious, and active, by the side of the Corsican roughness and indifference, is 


The hotel at Carghese* is a homely and tolerably comfortable second-floor 
apartment, with a certain appearance of cleanliness about its staircase and 
rooms, the latter having dark raftered ceilings ; an elderly woman and her 
very good-looking daughter, with a second young woman, also pretty, receives 
me, and are greatly amused and pleased by my speaking Greek, which the 
landlady both understands and speaks well ; of the two young damsels one only 
knew the commonest Romaic words, and the other none at all, for, said the 
daughter, "questa e Franca — she is a Frank." After a visit from the long- 
bearded Papa who had spoken to me from the window, and who promises to 
come in again in the evening, there is still time for a ramble in the village, 
the right-angled streets of which, and an air of care and cleanliness about the 
houses, give it a novel interest to a Corsican tourist. All round the village the 
Cactus opuntia is largely grown, and (as says Valery) there is a briskness and 
order here contrasting not a little with the apathy I had seen in other parts 
of the island. It was very amusing to talk Romaic with the people here and 
there — that is, with the elders, for they alone seemed to understand it ; one 
woman at a fountain spoke as if an Athenian, and with characteristic Greek 
curiosity inquired, "A\\a Slcltl rfkO* rj Evyeveia o-«? i8a> — Why did your honour 
come here ?" 

On returning to the hotel an excellent dinner was provided — soup, a dish 
of pilaf (the first seen in Corsica), roast lamb, &c, and very tolerable wine, 
but the priest, who came to pay his promised visit, brought a bottle of far 
better quality. The colony, according to him, came to Corsica under 
Genoese protection, about 1626, and consisted of 600 or 700 Greeks from 
Vittolo in Maina, and he says that now the population of the village is 
1,200, but much crossed by marriage with the islanders, and that even some 
Corsicans by descent are counted in that number. He describes the site of 
Paomia — the first settlement of these Spartan Moreotes, and burned some 
thirty years after their coming — as being distant about an hour's walk from 
here. After its destruction the colonies took refuge in Ajaccio for fifty years. 
They preserve their old ritual, but are all " united Greeks," or, in other words, 
Papists. The priests, he says, may marry, and at first did so, but do not now. 
Long since they have disused all national costume, and very generally the use 
of the Greek language, which intermarriage and the settling of the islanders 
amongst them are fast obliterating, and it is evident that they seek to 
separate themselves as little as possible from Corsicans. Thus, in two or 
three more generations their family names will be the only remaining proof 
of their nationality. My acquaintance, Papa Michele, seems to have been 
superseded, unjustly, according to his own account, by the Bishop of 

singularly striking at Carghese, surrounded as it is by some of the most barbarous villages in the island. 
Nevertheless, for some years past these refugees form alliances with the indigenous families, and 
Corsican blood even begins to preponderate. — Valery, i., p. 104. 

Mayio.] HISTORY OF CARGH£SL\ 1 23 

Ajaccio, who has given his place to a curate from the Piana de' Greci, in 
Sicily. " Perhaps," says he, " the Prefet may one day do me justice — vofilfa 
aurbv, 67T€iTa tov Seov, rjvai Harr)p /xov koX 7rpcoTos avOpcoircov. — He, after 
the Lord, is (in my opinion) my father, and the first of men." (*) 

May 10. — At 5 A.M., coffee-au-tumbler having been obligingly brought at 

(*) During this period of oppression, there happened a remarkable event, which was the 
establishment of a colony of Greeks in Corsica. . . The Turks having got possession of Candia 
in 1669, came by sea, and became masters of Maina, and reduced the unfortunate posterity of the 
Spartans to a state little better than slavery. But among those who dwelt at Porto Vitilo were 
some who, despairing to see any change in their dejected country, came to the resolution of abandoning 
it altogether, and of seeking an establishment somewhere else. In 1676, about 1,000 souls left Greece, 
the family of Stefanopoli conducting the whole enterprise, and they arrived at Genoa in January,' 1677, 
and remained till March. . . . They also brought with them some religious of the order of St. 
Basil, the only order in their church, who established a convent in a wild and romantic valley. But 
the Genoese did not approve of these fathers, and in a short time their convent was shut up. The 
Greeks found themselves very easy and happy for a good many years. By their industry and activity 
they beautified and enriched their possessions, and built very good houses, doing everything with a taste 
altogether new in Corsica. But their neighbours, the natives of the island, did not live in great harmony 
with them. Perhaps in this envy may have had some share ; for their vines and their olives, their herds 
and their flocks, were, by care and skill, much superior to those of the Corsicans. But, besides, the 
islanders looked upon the Greeks as auxiliaries of the Genoese, to whom indeed they, from time to time, 
swore fidelity, and were ever ready to give their assistance. They also knew that the Greeks were well 
supplied with arms, and therefore there were frequent skirmishes between them and the peasants of the 
province of Vico, of which their territories had formerly made a part ; and in the year 1729, when the 
nation rose against the Genoese, the Greeks were seriously attacked ; and many a desperate action they 
fought with great bravery. The Genoese formed three regular companies of them, to whom they gave 
pay, and they were always employed in the most difficult enterprises. In particular, they were detached 
to attempt taking the castle of Corte from the patriots ; on which occasion they were sorely defeated, 
and a great number of them were killed.^ After various struggles the Greeks were forced to leave 
their possessions, and retire to Ajaccio, where they now support themselves tolerably by their labour. 
This colony has been sober, virtuous, and industrious ; and if they have acted in a hostile manner 
against the nation, it was from a good principle, from the fidelity which they owed to the republic that 
had granted them an asylum, which fidelity they would ever have preserved had not the republic 
included them in the general oppression. I must observe of this colony, that it hath had the honour of 
producing an excellent physician, Signor Giovanni Stefanopoli, the first who hath had the wisdom and 
the spirit to bring inoculation into Corsica, by which he preserves multitudes of lives, and may, therefore, 
be justly reckoned a distinguished benefactor. — Boswell, pp. 88 — 90. 

The emigration of Moreote Greeks to Corsica took place on October 3, 1675, and the emigrants, 

730 in number, arrived at Genoa in January, 1675. Jean Stephanopoli, when the Laconians 

had decided on leaving Greece, had previously visited * Sicily in order to find some spot whereon 

to settle beyond the power of the Mussulman ; but ultimately had been permitted by the Genoese 

republic to choose a site in Corsica. A second emigration, consisting of 400 persons, left the Morea 

soon after the first, but were overtaken by the Turkish fleet, and massacred. The treaty signed at 

Genoa, January 18, 1676, assured the colony the possession of Paomia on the following conditions: — 

Article I. — The emigrants must recognise the Roman pontiff as spiritual chief, and they must 

profess the Greek rites as they are exercised in the pontifical states. 

2. — The bishops and other ecclesiastics of the colony must receive their investiture from the 

Holy See. 
3. — They oblige themselves to construct on their arrival at Paomia churches and dwellings 
for their own use, on condition of recognising the sovereignty of the Most Serene 
Republic, to which they must swear fidelity ; and they engage to serve it by land or 
sea, as it may require them to do, and also to pay exactly every established tax. 
4. — The colonists must be subordinate to the authority of the Latin [bishop of the 

5- — The domains of Paomia, Rovida, and Salogna, which the Republic gives up, a titre 
emphyteotique, must be divided between the different colonists ; the lot of each at his 
decease must be equally subdivided between his children without distinction of sex ; 


a still earlier hour, I am busy drawing the village of the Mainotes from a 
height on its east side, whence the whole locality is visible, besides a broad 
expanse of Mediterranean ; but thick mists cover all the farther distance, and 
at times descend even lower than the little chapel close above the village. 
Below me are groves of fruit trees, resounding with hundreds of nightingales, 
and looking either towards the shore, or inland to the hills, all the land is 
cultivated, and unites with clouds above and cloud shadows far away on the 
sea, to make a pretty picture enough. (See Plate 1 6.) 

Descending, I draw on the other side of the village till 10.30. There is a 
look of cheerfulness about Carghese not observable in any of the places I have 
hitherto seen in Corsica ; the scattered and rural Grosseto ; the wooded and 
secluded Olmeto ; Sartene, the grand and solemn; Bonifacio, walled and 
isolated ; Porto Vecchio, the decayed ; all have their special characteristic, 
but among them cheerfulness is not. Here, on the contrary, the entire open- 
ness of the position of the village is in itself a cheery feature ; standing, as it 
does, away from rocks or trees, or overhanging height, at the end of a pro- 
montory with sea on all sides but one, so that from the southern face of the 

and the property of any colonist who dies without descendants must return to the 
7. — It is permitted to the colonists to build stoves and mills ; to possess cattle of all 
kinds ; and to have arms, with the exception of those the carriage of which is 
8. — They may exercise commerce freely, on condition of paying patente. 
9. — They may arm rebels against the Turks, but only under the flag of the Republic. 
10. — The government of Genoa engages to furnish the means of transport from Genoa to 
Paomia gratuitously ; but the colonists must repay the Republic the sum of 1,000 
piastres which has been advanced, either for the purpose of defraying the expenses 
of the captain of the vessel in which they came from Greece, or for that of providing 
for their maintenance before their departure for Corsica. 
11. — The Republic of Genoa engages to maintain at its own charge an ecclesiastic knowing 
the literal Greek language to instruct the children of the colony, in order to preserve 
in it the language and the Graeco-Catholic rite ; and further, binds itself to maintain 
at its own expense two pupils at the Propaganda Fide at Rome. 
The colony arrrived in Corsica, March 14, 1676. Among the colonists was a bishop named Parthenius, 
but the Republic of Genoa ruled that no future bishop should replace him after his death, and that the 
young Greek ecclesiastics should thenceforth receive ordination at the hands of the Graeco-Catholic 
bishop residing at Rome. The Greek colony became extremely flourishing, but its happiness only 
lasted from 1676 to 1729, the period when the Corsican revolution against Genoa burst out in the 
Terra de' Communi, and which continued down to 1 769. 

In these circumstances, the Greeks, out of gratitude to the Genoese Government, took no part in the 
revolution, and when the adjoining villages claimed their arms they refused to give them up, and 
assumed an attitude of defence ; then they were accused as partisans of the Genoese, and assailed on 
every side, their lands were devastated, their flocks driven away or destroyed. The Genoese government 
being no longer in a position to help the Greeks, it counselled them to abandon Paomia, and to take 
refuge in Ajaccio ; and the Greeks, having sent their families thither in boats, endeavoured for some 
time longer to defend themselves, but, harassed on all sides, they were soon reduced to the cruel 
necessity of forsaking their villages, and, with great difficulty, to save themselves in the town of Ajaccio. 
This event happened in the month of April, 1731. Transplanted to that city, they were allowed, for 
the exercise of their worship a chapel situated not far from Ajaccio, named La Madonna del Carmine, 
which was thenceforth called La Capella de' Greci. Up to this time they had preserved their national 
dress, but a sanguinary feud between them and the inhabitants of Mezzana led them to adopt the same 


hill you overlook the whole settlement at once. The light colour of the stone 
of which the houses are built, in regular lines, and the gardens that surround 
many of them, have none of the usual gloomy Corsican aspect, and there 
is a novelty in the wide extent of the Indian fig or cactus which stretches 
below the village on the north side, and along the edge of which pigs are tied 
to stakes, leading a life of order and propriety, instead of dirtily rambling all 
over the settlement. Many a trim village scene of industrious and lively 
Greece is recalled by Carghese. And had the shores of the opposite side of 
the Gulf of Sagona been clear, the view looking that way must needs be of 
great beauty ; the indentations of the coast line and the lower hills show 
thus much, though the higher summits are just now hopelessly hidden by 

1 1 A.M. — Return to the inn, passing the large building which is so con- 
spicuous in all the views of Carghese, and which they tell me is the new 
Greek church ; it is a mere shell, standing unfinished for want of funds, and I 
suppose is the same edifice towards the completion of which M. Valery was 
so amusingly entreated to subscribe in 1835. The original chapel used by 

dress as that of the population of Ajaccio, because the men of Mezzana, whenever they saw any one 
dressed as a Greek, killed him without mercy. And by this time the poor Greeks had discovered that 
want of pity and bloodthirstiness are not more characteristic of the worshippers of Mahomet than of 
those who adore Christ. 

During the time the Greeks lived in the town of Ajaccio they contributed greatly to the improvement 
of the cultivation of the beautiful territories which that city possesses ; and the Genoese government also 
gained by them in their supplying the republic with many good soldiers. 

The Germans who came to Corsica in aid of the Genoese republic could not inspire the Greeks with 
sufficient confidence to induce them to return to their possessions in Paomia, and hardly had the 
imperialists quitted the island than new troubles broke out. It was then that Genoa applied to France 
as mediator. 

France, become mistress of Corsica in 1769, resolved at once to reinstate the Greek colony in its 
former position ; but by this time all the dwellings were utterly destroyed, and their lands, once so well 
cultivated, had again resumed their natural savage appearance. 

Thus, after forty-three years of exile, they were re-established, A.D. 1 774? m a s P°t west of Paomia, 
and a new domain was given to them on the promontory named Pontiglione, which separates the Gulf 
of Sagona from that of Pero, and this new establishment was called Carghese, and raised to a marquisate 
under the protection of the Count de Marbceuf. This village or little town is placed like an amphi- 
theatre above the sea-shore ; erected at the expense of the French government, all the houses were from 
the first built of the same height, and arranged in streets at right angles. 

The Count de Marboeuf caused a fine castle to be raised at Carghese, and often went there to pass 
some days in admiring the progress and industry of the Greeks. 

The colonists continued to enjoy peace till the commencement of the French revolution. At that 
period the ancient animosities of the surrounding villagers again burst forth, war soon followed, and the 
Greeks, unable to offer resistance, were again obliged to abandon Carghese, a great part of which was 
burned, and the castle of Count de Marbceuf was destroyed. The colonibts re-entered the town of 
Ajaccio reduced to the utmost misery. It was then that several families allied themselves with 
Corsicans, and when order was restored, and the Greeks were able to return to their possessions, many 
of them preferred to remain in the town of Ajaccio. 

Since that period (1814) tranquillity has not been disturbed ; alliances with the islanders have become 
more and more frequent ; the Corsican dialect is even spoken by all the Greeks, though they have always 
preserved their own language among themselves. The marriages of Corsicans and Greeks have made it 
necessary in our own time to erect two new churches at Carghese, one consecrated to the Latin rite, the 
other to that of the United Greek Catholics. — Galletti, pp. 131 — 136. 


the Greeks stands on the main road. I could linger willingly in Carghese for 
two or three days, but, according to the scale which my limited stay in Corsica 
compels me to adopt, more than this one morning cannot be spared for the 
Mainote village, and I shall reach my next halting-place, La Piana, this 
evening. Meanwhile the people of the inn tell me some of the names of the 
Carghese families — Stephanopoulos, Papalaki, Pietrolaki, Dhrimalaki, Fran- 
golaki, Zannitaki ; the priest is Michele Mendouraki ; and, oddly enough, that 
of the landlord of the hotel Polymeros Korfiotti. 

After breakfast, which, though very good, was, excepting its conclusion of 
roast lamb, quite marine in its character — to wit, lobster soup, fried mullet, 
lobster boiled, and lobster salad — I went out to see the " Greek church," so 
called ; it is very small, and differing only from similar places of worship, in 
its having a crucifix above the altar ; a fact sufficiently demonstrating that the 
Catholic had superseded the Orthodox in the religious system of Carghese. 

After this there was a visit to pay, for on my arrival last night I had sent 
M. Lambert's letter to the Chef de gendarmerie, who had called, begging I 
would take coffee with him next day, when he would give me a letter to the 
agent of M. Chauton, at the forest of Valdoniello ; and so, after some very 
good tumbler-coffee and biscuits, in the neat clean room of M. Ceccaldi and 
his colleague, whose daughter is married to the agent at Porto, I gained much 
information as to my onward route. From Carghese to La Piana, they say 
are twenty kilometres, and beyond it twelve more to Porto, along a coast road 
cited as wonderful for precipices and fine scenery ; from Porto up to the 
mountain to Evisa are twenty kilometres farther ; but as to the forests higher 
up my informants are not sure — seven or eight kilometres of a bad and steep 
road they believe to be about the distance. From Evisa to Vico there are 
twenty kilometres, and thence down to Sagona on the main Ajaccio road other 
fourteen. At Evisa they recommend the Maison Carrara as a halting-place. 

The trap is ordered at 2.30 P.M., so there is yet time to add somewhat to 
my sketch of the distant mountains, which are gradually clearing. Looking 
across the Gulf of Sagona, and away from the wide western sea, how clearly 
much of the history of Corsica is explained ; of days when the people in its 
valleys, closed in by their own barrier mountain walls — hardly even in much 
communication with that next to them, and quite divided from the rest of 
the island — spent their energies in quarrels with their neighbours. 

Either there is little curiosity or much good breeding in Carghese, for no 
one comes near or otherwise molests me while drawing, which is as pleasant as 
singular. Children in Corsica, as far as I have seen, are a race unique for 
good behaviour ; no throwing of stones, as at Naples or in Greece ; no shouting 
or teasing, and yet never is there any sign of timidity ; in fact, for the sake of 
their quiet intelligence, I have already quite forgiven all Corsican children 
their habits of swarming up Ajaccio stairs. 

Mayio.] MAINOTE BALLAD. 1 27 

Papa Mendourias Michele Stephan6poulos comes to pay me a parting visit, 
and writes me down a Greek song from memory, promising me others if I will 
send him some from Fauriel's book ; at present I can only repeat him the 
single verse of one sent me by M. Merimee — 

'Eoa ridels oev ^Xda/xev 
KaXb Kpaal vd irtu/J-ev. 

He says that when M. Merimee was here, about 1843, a Greek costume, now 
quite disused, was pretty generally worn by the elder women. My clerical 
acquaintance imputes many changes at Carghese to a "fuggasco" Latin 
priest from Syra, in the time of Leo XII. Papa Michele is not, however, 
wholly to be relied on, for in maintaining that their religious ritual is unaltered, 
he declares that the Athanasian Creed is used in the Orthodox Oriental 
churches, which most certainly and happily is not the case. He also says 
there exists a MS., date 1650, written by one of their priests, detailing all 
their early tribulations, but does not inform me where it is.^) 

2.45 P.M. — Flora, Domenico, and C 0, are ready, and so farewell to the 
Greek colony of Carghese ; a wind is rising, and a clearing of all hill-tops 
ensues. Soon, leaving the shore of the little Gulf di Pero and that of Chiomi, 

(*) [The Greek characters of Papa Mendourias were not easy to decipher, but a friend thus writes to 
me on sending me back the old song with a translation, " By the help of a magnifying-glass I have 
leapt over the wall of illegibility, though the first line [cannot be made out. I take it to be some old 
refrain like ' The leaves grow rarely,' or ' The birk blows bonny,' &c. of a Scotch ballad." — E. L.] 

'Aj/a fipooals fipooiov Kal dirk fipaori fipadid^ei, 
Evyive 7} (povcrra r\ QpayyiKT], Kal rj TovpKinr) yaXi6ra 
Kal kiridaav eva veb KaXXb, eva KaXXb aTparr]6T' t 
Mai/a oev 6^%e vd rb KXaei, Kvpi vd rb Xnr6rai 

Mov' e?x e /Uia ayair^TiKT] iroXXa jiaitpa 'ard £eva 

Kal eKeivt] k birov t' aitovae, k Sttov eT^e t* dypiKuKTrj, 

Kal fiafci rd (TKOvfia (TT?ji/7rco8ta, Kal rd (pXovpia VtV C l ^ a ' 1 7> 

Kal 67reipe rb (TTpar)) crrpar^], rb fiib rb fxovoirdrT\. 

There went out a Frankish vessel, and a Turkish galley, 

And they took a fine young man, a fine soldier. 

He had no mother to weep for him, no lady to grieve for him. 

He had only a love far away in a foreign land. 

And she, when she had heard of it, and listened to it, 

She put her shoes on her feet, and her florins in her girdle, 

And took the road, the road, the way trodden in a single path. 

[Among other notices of Corsica which M. Prosper Merimee most kindly sent me before I left 
Cannes is one relating to Carghese, in which he says, " I was struck with their pronunciation, which is, I 
am told, much like that of the Cretans. For instance they would pronounce \ayfjvi as a Frenchman 
would lajini, x*P l as chert, Ktfy'aXi) as tchefali. I remember one of their songs, a very foolish one, that 
will give you, perhaps, an idea of their dialect — 

" ' H^ueTs iird Sey 7]\dafxei/ 
KaXb Kpaal vd Triovfxev 
6 orvvTpo<p6s fxov (j 3 ayairoi 
Kal riAda/jiet/ vd a : idovy.evS " 

As M. Merimee says, the pronunciation of the Carghese Greeks is precisely like that of the natives of 
Crete, in which island I spent some months in 1864.— E. L.] 


the road runs inland among pleasant green fields, up a bright vale joyous 
with corn ; there are poplars by a stream, dazzling yellow blooming rape, 
and eastward a wall of mountains at the valley head, with corn everywhere, 
up to the very tops of the nearer hills. But as the way begins to wind up 
a long and steep ascent in a narrowing gorge, the well-known " maquis " 
encroaches gradually on the merry food-fields, gay with sunlight, and striped 
with cloud shades — for 

' ' A light wind blew from the gates of the sun, 
And waves of shadow went over the corn." 

4.20. — Beautiful views of the far-away Carghese promontory and a clear 
fountain are good excuses for five minutes' rest. Henceforth the road is 
tolerably level, as leaving the valley of Chiomi it takes a more northerly 
direction, parallel to the craggy-fronted barriers, towards which I have been 
climbing, not without observing the good driving of the new Jehu Domenico, 
and the eminent qualities of his two ponies. Coasting the mountains, as it 
were, the head of another seaward valley is passed, woodier and more beautiful 
than the last, and with more picturesque mountain outlines ; then succeed 
bosky ilex -woods at intervals, and some enclosures of cherry trees, while not 
unfrequently a couple of red-legged partridges trot leisurely across the road. 

Shortly the ridge terminating in Capo Rosso is crossed, and at a sharp 
turn of the road, a vast and striking picture of mountain, cliff, sea, and the 
village of La Piana, starts suddenly, as it were, into life : never again shall I 
say, as I have said more than once, that there is no remarkable coast scenery 
in Corsica, for, doubtless, this may claim comparison with that of most 
countries for grandeur. Indeed, I cannot remember any view of the kind 
so magnificent, except that of Assos in Cephalonia and the coast near Amalfi, 
but in both those places a high snowy range like that of the Corsican Alps is 
wanting. Below that silver range of peaks, the great heights opposite are, at 
this hour, covered with the loveliest velvety gray-green, furrowed and fretted 
with infinite lines, and beautifully mysterious with floating clouds and misty 
" scumblings ;" in the middle distance is a line of pink granite or porphyry 
rocks, and nearer still a crest of immense crags above the village of La Piana, 
in itself more picturesque than most I have seen in Corsica ; placed among 
slopes of green gardens and groups of chesnut trees, and looking seaward to a 
stretch of exceedingly grand coast cliffs, running, from what I suppose is the 
bay or gulf of Porto, to Punt 'alia Scopa and Rossa. (See Plate 17.) 

Sending on Flora and Co., I worked hard till 6.30 P.M. to get a drawing of 
this scene — a task that seemed to have no end, as higher snow peaks were 
suddenly unfolded from wreaths of cloud, and the crimsoning lights and purple 
shades on the mountains rapidly varied as the sun set^ 1 ) 

(') I landed on the rocks at the point called Fiscaiola. The ascent to Piana is horribly steep. 
Piana, a pretty village of 700 souls, well situated and modern— for the fear of the Barbary corsairs has 

Mayio.] THE INN AT PI AN A. 1 29 

7.15. — Reach La Piana, a pleasant looking country village, loftily placed 
amid this glorious scenery, and possessing a Piazza or Place, where Domenico 
is waiting to point out the hotel, a little house with ladder-staircases, cleaner 
than usual, leading to two tiny rooms unexpectedly snug and clean. The 
landlord, with that obliging manner and homely good breeding so constantly 
observable in this island, after a short apology for "our poor and rustic 
dwelling, where you must not expect much," prepares the little table for 
dinner, which is served up by a bustling country girl ; and in this remote 
village inn, where the slenderest accommodation might have been looked for 
not only were the clean cloth and napkins and silver spoons such as you might 
expect at town hotels, but the fare was all good, and well cooked. Corsican 
country inns are, it is evident, surprisingly satisfactory by comparison with 
those of the towns. 

The short journey of to-day, as well as the morning passed at Carghese, 
have left plenty of pleasant memories ; and the air here is so fresh and bracing 
that G., who, thanks to quinine, has had no fresh attack of fever, will now I think 
escape that enemy. Altogether this second " fytte " of Corsican travel 
seems to have commenced prosperously. 

long kept this part of the island uninhabited — might become a place of commerce, were there any road 
from Fiscaiola. 

In the neigbourhood of La Piana are two ruins, or rather two remembrances, which are associated 
with the ancient times of the island history — the castle of Guinepro, near the tower of Porto, and that 
of Jean Paul de Leca, the first and most indefatigable movers of that perpetual insurrection of Corsica 
against the Genoese, which lasted four centuries, and only closed with Paoli. — Valery, i., pp. ico, 101. 



Glorious Scenery — Leave La Piana — Extraordinary Pass among Rocks — Descent to Gulf of Porto 
— Finest Portion of Corsican Coast Landscape — Tower of Porto — Great Timber Works of 
M. Chauton — M. and Madame Ceccaldi — Superb Scenery of the Valley of Otta— Grasshopper- 
Pigs — The Gorge or Pass below Evisa ; exceeding Grandeur of Views — Evisa — Unsatisfactory 
"Hotel" — Beautiful Scenery beyond Evisa — Great Forest of A'itone — Bombyx Processionaria — 
Vast and magnificent Forest Scenery- — A T ariety of Trees — Reach the Forest of Valdoniello — Valley 
of Niolo — Enormous Pines — Descent to M. Chauton's Establishment — Pine Forest Scenery in 
perfection — Hospitable reception by M. and Madame Ruelle — Pleasant Evening and agreeable 
Company — A Day in Valdoniello — Effects of Sunrise in the Forest — Gigantic Trees — Cloud and 
Rain — Leave Valdoniello and return by A'itone to Evisa — Madame Carrara's excellent little Hotel 
and good Breakfast — Drive from Evisa to Cristinaccie — Great Ilex and Chesnut Woods — 
Domenico the Coachman's Music — Beautiful Drive; ever delightful greenness of Corsican 
Landscape — Walks in the Valley of Vico— Great Extent of Chesnut Woods — Vico — Picturesque- 
ness cum Dirt — Leave Vico and descend to Sagona — Mid-day Halt by the Seaside — Flora's 
exemplary Conduct — Jelly-Fish and Amaryllises — Return to Ajaccio. 

May II. — It is necessary to rise early to get an outline of the topmost 

peaks of the mountains above La Piana, about which the clouds soon gather 

and hide them ; but this does not prevent the good folk of the house from 

getting coffee ready before 4 A.M., so that I could complete a drawing near the 

village by 6. Sky, earth, and sea are all clear as crystal, and this view of La 

Piana and the west coast of Corsica is alone worth coming a long way to see. 

Leaving G. to pay, and to follow with Flora and C° M I take leave of the 

tidy and obliging people at the little hotel, and walk on alone. And shortly 

are reached the great precipices that form so prominent a part of the view 

I had drawn of La Piana, standing apparently immediately behind the village, 

but in reality distant some half-mile, sloping down in jagged and dreadful 

array to the sea. {See Plate 18.) What beautiful variety of form and colouring 

in these granite — or are they porphyry ? — pillars and crags, so brilliant and 

gay in comparison with the sober pallid hues of limestone rocks ! The 

carriage road — a very good one, and with a parapet throughout on the side 

towards the sea — is cut for a considerable distance through the heart of these 

crags and peaks, along the edge of this savage coast, parts of which are truly 

splendid. Groups of lofty spires, like cypresses turned into stone, shoot up 

from the shadowy depths of terrible abysses, or overhang the highway, in 

one place half-blocked up by a mass lately fallen from the heights above, 

and as you wind among these strange and wild pinnacles, you look between 

their clusters of rugged columns to the placid gulf of Porto and the beautiful 

hill forms on its farther side, forming a succession of pictures, framed by the 

grim foreground above and below you. This part of Corsican coast scenery 

somewhat resembles the cornice road, near Capo di Noli ; but though the 


mountain wall is much higher there, the Piana and Porto rocks are far more 
beautiful on account of their colour, in some places almost rosy, and reminding 
me not a little of portions of Petra. 

At 7.30 I walk on, having made fewer memoranda than I could wish of 
these remarkable coast scenes, partly that there is a long day's work ahead, 
partly from there being more coldness than is agreeable among the shadows 
of this weird region of peakedness, and its gulfs of dim gloom, strange and 
silent as death. 

As in the song of the autumn garden of Alfred Tennyson, one may 
imagine that a spirit haunts the place, and " listening earnestly," one may 
hear him say, " Enough that you have destroyed the solitude and quiet of my 
mountain fastnesses by a high road : pass on, nor linger among my stony 
palaces !"( ! ) 

Broad and beautiful views open out after the last of the precipices is 
passed, when the descent commences to the gulf and tower of Porto, at the 
entrance of the valley leading up to Aitone. From the great height at which 
this fine road is carried through the pass from La Piana, it winds snakily down 
the hill side to the sea, with a series of curves at the edge of precipices, by no 
means conveying pleasure to those who dislike giddy heights ; Domenico, 
however, drives well and steadily the whole way down, allowing time to 
observe some of the finest scenes I have yet seen in this island. At every 
turn there are new and fine combinations of beauty — round-headed pines 
rising above the dense vegetation that clothes the whole of the middle dis- 
tance, backed by immense mountains above, and with the deep green gulf 
lying like a mirror below. (See Plate 19.) 

On reaching the shore the road leaves the sea and turns up the valley of 
Otta, and at 8.30 A.M. I am at the timber works or establishment of M. Chauton, 
a large group of wooden houses, with mills, chimneys, bridges, &c, pine trunks 
in great piles, sawpits, mules, men and women, and abundant children — a busy 
spot, appearing to contain more life than one has seen on the whole route 
from Ajaccio, Carghese and La Piana excepted. The buildings stand not far 
from the mouth of the river, a torrent which flows from the high mountains 
above Evisa into the Gulf of Porto, the lower part of its course being through 
what is now nearly a dry channel, with marshy ground on each side, unhealthy 
in appearance, as, according to all accounts, it is in reality. 

M. Martin Ceccaldi, the resident agent, to whom his cousin the gendarme 
at Carghese had given me an introduction, received me with the gravity so 
characteristic of Corsicans, who, it seems to me, are little given to compliment 
or gaiety, and with his wife, an extremely pretty person, genial in manners, 
ask me to stay breakfast, promising a letter to M. Ruelle, M. Chauton's 

( ! ) [This is the finest portion of coast scenery I saw in Corsica. What must the pathway from Porto 
to La Piana have been in the days of M. Valery ? — E. L.] 

J 2 



[May II. 

principal agent at Valdoniello. The establishment there is about twenty- 
three kilometres from Evisa, and that place is about as many from Porto, a 
steep up-hill drive all the way, whereby, says Domenico, I ought to start 
hence at mid-day. 

There is little employment for the pencil at Porto besides the Genoese 
tower at the mouth of the valley and a sketch of the bridge and mountains 
moreover, there was a sensation of feverish damp, which instinctively led 
me to prefer sitting in M. Ceccaldi's house. Within-doors, however, time 
passed pleasantly, not only in discussing a breakfast doubly welcome from 
its excellence and from the kindliness of my hosts, but in conversation on 
various subjects. Much is said about the Hon. Mrs. A. B., who, with the 
Due de B. and others, have lately been here ; her beauty seems to have 


struck my host and hostess with extreme admiration. We discourse, too, 
on the goodness of Corsican roads ; on the perfect security now existing 
in all parts of the island ; and of the contrast in this respect between its 
present condition and that of even thirty years ago ; of Otta, the native 
village of M. Ceccaldi, a place four kilometres ahead, and which I am to 
observe as I go up to the forests ; of the fertile subject of Vendetta ; and 
of how Ceccaldi's own father was assassinated at Otta, because, when maire, 
he had asked a doctor to examine the hands of a man who had been drawn 
as a conscript, but who shammed having lame fingers ; of silkworms, and 
of how Madame Ceccaldi, when at school, kept so many with the " eleves " 
at Ajaccio, that they were able to buy an harmonium with the proceeds of 
the silk ; and of the wrongs inflicted on Corsica by the Genoese ; &c. All 
this, playing withal with little Leo, the elder of two small Ceccaldi children, 
passed the morning easily. . 

Domenico, says Giorgio, having volunteered that this house is " waav 

May ii.] 



%€voho-)(eiov — all the same as an inn," I endeavour to settle the account, but 
rind I have made a mistake, and that I can nowise induce my entertainer 
to accept any money. Nor can I without difficulty rind an opportunity of 
giving a trifling sum to the female servant, whose face speaks bitterly of 
fever suffered, and reminds me of many I used to see in days of Pontine 
Marsh malarious wanderings. So, Flora and C 0, being ready, I promise to 
send a " Book of Nonsense " to Leo, and take leave of my good hosts at 
11.30, with a pleasant recollection of this visit to Porto. 

Recrossing the torrent by the bridge I had passed in coming from La 
Piana, the road leads up the great valley which ascends towards the heights 
of Mount Artica, and the lofty ridges west of the Niolo, keeping near the bed 
of the stream where masses of granite are worn by the water into most grotesque 


forms. The north side of this vast gorge, on which lies the property of the village 
of Otta, is much cultivated, olives, corn, and vineyards hanging on its steep 
terraced declivities( l ) ; on the opposite side of the pass, that along which the 
route forestiere is carried, another and wilder world prevails ; depths and 
groves of chesnuts, now full of young leaf in all the green beauty of spring, 
and waving above fern and foxglove and patches of cyclamen, where " here 
and there a milky-belled amaryllis blew." As you proceed to the ascent, the 
views into the heart of the great mountains through some of the lateral openings 
from this valley of Otta are exceedingly remarkable, the more that the lower 
part of the gorge is not particularly distinguished from many similar fine 
mountain scenes ; some of these bursts of stupendously fine landscapes higher 

( l ) [The pigs in this part of Corsica, in order to prevent them from straying in garden or vineyard, are 
furnished with an extraordinary apparatus of two long pieces of wood fastened above and below their 
heads, and having the appearance of huge horns ; at a distance they look like vast grasshoppers. E. L.] 



[May 1 1 . 

up in the pass are really startling, and unlike any I have seen elsewhere. Huge 
pyramidal crags stand above you, isolated, and rising from rich green groves 
of great chesnut trees ; their riven peaks and towering masses magnified by 
floating mists, pierce the clear sky, and it is difficult to exaggerate the extra- 
ordinary grandeur of their effect, though varied as they are every moment 
by passing clouds at times hiding or displaying them, it is not easy to seize 
distinct records of such fleeting magic day-dreams. (See Plate 20.) The 
whole pass is thickly covered with wood, chesnut, and ilex, and no part of it 


is more romantic than about the fourth kilometre, where the village of Otta is 
seen perched up on the opposite side of the gorge, below tremendous heights, 
which seem to threaten it with destruction, especially one enormous mass of 
rock poised, apparently, immediately above the village^ 1 ) 

Still higher up, the gorge is more contracted, and seems to close in with 
immense heights and a terrible wildness of dusky gray granite and depths of 

( x ) Above Otta is an enormous stone which overhangs and seems perpetually to threaten the village 
below. There are legends told regarding this great rock, and it is said that formerly the superstitious 
inhabitants went at certain timts of the year to tie the huge mass with cords, and sprinkle it with oil, 
that it might thus be prevented from falling on the village. — Galtttti, p. 130. 

May ii.] 



awful gloom ; grand as are the scenes, the great scale of their proportions 
hardly allow them to be favourably represented. 3 P.M., the road skirts 
hollows in the hill side, and runs disagreeably by the edge of parapetless 
precipices, then crosses to the opposite face of the valley, high up at the head 
of which you see Cristinaccie and other villages, while fruit gardens mark the 
vicinity of habitations ; finally, at 4, the top of the pass being nearly reached, 
I send on Flora and C to Evisa, and linger on the edge of the great gorge 


for the sake of getting some memoranda of its sublime scenery, here visible 
down the whole of the valley of Otta to the gulf of Porto. It would take, 
however, far longer than the half hour I can spare for it to portray the 
infinitesimal detail of its wild and gloomy precipices. ( ! ) 

At 5.15 P.M. reach Evisa, one of the highest villages in Corsica, apparently 
a considerable place, stretching on the east side down to groves of chesnut 

( J ) Evisa offers a charming distant view of mountains and forests. These gay mountains, detached and 
distinct, almost recall the hopping hills of Scripture. . . . Near Evisa, on the road to Otta, is the 
chapel of St. Cyprien . . .the altar is destroyed, and the building is now used as a cemetery for the 
inhabitants of Evisa. — Valery, i., p. 117. 


not yet fully in leaf, while seaward are the great mountain crags in the valley 
of Otta. Although there seem to be several very tolerable houses in the 
village, that at the door of which Domenico is cleaning the ponies is not at 
all prepossessing, and betokens no pleasant night's rest. " Is there no better 
hotel ?" No, he knows of none ; has already placed the " roba " inside, and 
has bespoken dinner, so, as the Suliot says, " Bev eivai lourpiKa — there is no 
help for it." A room opening from the road — there is here at least no ladder- 
stair to complain of — seems used as a common osteria as well as kitchen and 
family dwelling ; beyond it is the tiniest of squalid chambers, in which G. with 
difficulty makes up my camp-bed, himself being promised a mattress on the 
table in the osteria when — an unknown future — that establishment may be 
empty. The host and his wife — he is a Milanese, who tells me he came from 
Italy hither on account of " circonstanze " many years back — are obliging, 
and do their best to provide a supper, though that best is very feeble. Nor 
did it prove to be eatable, even after a long walk ; one of the items, an 
astonishingly nasty compound of eggs, parsley, sugar, and garlic, was indeed 
wholly otherwise, a matter, however, soon remedied by G.'s taking the culinary 
department into his own hands, and turning out a dish of plain fried eggs, 
which, with bread and cheese and good wine, did well enough. 

This day, however, though not ending pleasantly as to lodgings, has its 
own valuable memories ; in the morning, those of the strange rock scenery of 
La Piana, and later of the pass from Porto, where the vast and sublime masses 
of precipitous rock made new dream landscapes at every step, with magnifi- 
cent alternations of light and shadow. 

May 12, 5 A.M. — The morning is delightfully fine and the air exquisite ; nor, 
among other good things, should an excellent tumbler of coffee be forgotten, 
such as one would hardly have expected to find on the top of a mountain in 
remote Corsica ; here, as elsewhere, the good people exhibit great anxiety to 
compensate for what they know to be their deficiencies. 

While Flora and C 0, are getting ready I discourse with Casanova, a 
brother of the guardiano at the forest house near the twelfth kilometre on the 
Bastelica road — scene of the memorable downfall of the carriage and horses 
of Peter the profane— and then set off to make a drawing of Evisa, looking 
towards the crags of the Porto pass. Notwithstanding M. Valery's raptures, 
and the "bondants collines de la Sainte Ecriture — Why hop ye so ye 
hills ?" to which he likens this scenery, I had not found it so attractive as I 
had expected on entering Evisa by the west side ; but from the east the view 
is far more beautiful, and as you go up the hill from the village the Porto crags 
are immensely majestic. {See Vignette, page 135.) 

Just beyond the twenty-third kilometre, from the sea, the road — a route 
forestiere — divides ; one branch to the right leads by Cristinaccie to Vico, the 

May 12.] CORSICAN PINES. 137 

other through the forest of Aitone, up the great valley or basin of that name, 
to the ridge which separates it from the district or canton of N iolo, and then 
down the other side, through the forest of Valdoniello, as far as the establish- 
ment of M. Chauton. 

In a short time the skirts of the forest are reached, and as far as eye can 
see is a world of pines, filling up the depths of the wide vale, and clothing the 
sides of it far up the mountains on either hand, a space greatly exceeding the 
hollow of Bavella in size, but less novel and beautiful in its aspect, owing to 
the unbroken wall-like character of the heights here, and the absence of the 
detached and varied forms of rock which are the glory of the Bavella scenery.^) 
The trees near the entrance of the forest are not of great height, and for some 
distance inward are mostly more or less covered with a multitude of the bright 
white sacs or nests of the larvae of that remarkable insect, the Bombyx pro- 

( l ) The pine {Pinus lariccio) is the chief occupant of Corsican forests, frequently reaching to the 
height of from ioo to 120 feet. The branches of the Pinus lariccio are mostly confined to its top, 
while the trunk appears one broken column. Spread over large tracts of country, with foliage interlaced 
so as to be almost impervious to the sun, the pines convey the idea of a magnificent temple, the inter- 
columned perspective of which the traveller attempts in vain to penetrate. — Benson, p. 20. 

(Benson gives an extract from Theophrastus on the pines of Corsica, and on the ship carrying fifty 
sails built of them by the Romans. — Hist. Plant., 1. 5, c. 8, Edit. Stackhouse. ) 

The superb Lariccio pines of Corsica have not degenerated from their ancestors of two thousand 
years ago, when praised by Theophrastus, who observed that the pines of Latium could not be compared 
to them. The forests of Corsica, to the number of forty or fifty, of which two only are turned to 
account, would supply more than the wants of our navy. The Genoese, wiser than we, imported all 
their wood from Corsica, and this explains the importance they attached to possessing the island. These 
forests, the first in Europe, instead of extending monotonously in long plains, plunge into deep valleys, 
or wind along the sides of high mountains, not wrapped in heavy and gloomy clouds like the forests ot 
the north ; a splendid sun illumines them, and they present immense and magnificent prospects. The 
forest of Aitone, one of the two which are being utilised, passes for the most vast and the most beauti- 
ful of all in the island. I admired its gigantic Lariccio pines, their trunks slender and smooth, 
towering, exhaling a powerful perfume of resin, branchless up to a height of above 100 feet, and 
crowned by a magnificent tuft of foliage, waving and sonorous in the breeze. — Valery, i., pp. 118 120. 

The forests belonging to the state have in Corsica a superficies of about 40,000 hectares ; these forests 
will be utilised by means of thirteen routes forestieres. — Grandchamps. 

The forest of Aitone, the most classical of Corsica, contains more than 700,000 trees of fir and larix 
pine, of large girth and height. The utilisation of this forest by the Genoese in the seventeenth century 
lasted fifty years. Its superficies is 1,360 hectares ; on one of its sides it approaches the sea along the 
torrent of Porto, on the other, climbing the mountain, it joins the great forest of Valdoniello, which 
contains more than 500,000 trees. — Galletti, p. 139. 

The forests are of pine trees, principally of two species, Pinus maritima, generally called pinaster, 
which is chiefly useful as yielding great quantities of turpentine, but whose wood is not durable ; and 
thj famous Corsican pine, which supplies some of the most valuable timber in Europe. . . . Mr. 
Hawker, speaking of the confusion existing between this tree and larch, says, There are two trees, 
whose scientific names are — 1. Pinus larix, which we call larch, and the French Melese, or rarely larix; 
2. Pinus laricio, which we call Corsican pine, and the French Pin larice. No one who has ever seen 
the Corsican pine could possibly mistake it for a larch, as the tree is an evergreen, and resembles a 

Scotch fir ; and, moreover, I do not believe that there is a single specimen of a larch in the island. 

Hawker, " Alpine Journal," May, 1869. 

The tallest Pinus maritima that we measured was 1 16 feet high, and the largest Pinus laricio was close 
to the path on our way up ; it was 136 feet high and twenty-four round, but there were many larger in 
the forest. A baulk of laricio timber was exhibited at the Ajaccio exhibition (1865), for which a prize 
was deservedly given, as the labour of getting it out of the forest must have been enormous. It 
measured, when properly squared, eight feet square, and was over 160 feet long. — Hawker, "Alpine 
Journal," p. 297. 


cessioiialis,{J) my first acquaintance with which I had made in the woods round 
Cannes. Here, in Aitone, the smooth satin-like surface of these nests, 
shining like silver among the tall dark green pines, has a most curious effect ; 
and not less strange, from time to time, are the long strings or processions 
— some of them ten or fifteen feet in length — of this extraordinary cater- 
pillar crawling along the road, now parallel with its edge, now crossing it in 
unbroken file. In other parts, below trees more than commonly full of their 
nests, are great heaps, some of them as large as a half-bushel basket, of these 
creatures, apparently in a state of torpor, or only in motion towards the point 
from which their " follow my leader " institution is about to take place. Now 
and then, in passing under trees loaded with these bombyx bags, the thought 
that one may plump into one's face is not agreeable, for the hairs which come 
from these animals on the slightest touch occasion excessive and even 
dangerous irritation. 

But the questions arise, on seeing such myriads of these wonderful little 
brutes — do the nests fall down by their own weight, owing to the increasing 
size of the caterpillars ? Or do the inmates at a certain time open their nests 
and fall down "spontaneous " to commence their linear expeditions ? Do they, 
as some maintain, migrate in order to procure fresh food ? It seems to me 
not so from what I have noticed of their habits ; for though I have continually 
discovered them coming doivn the trunk of a pine-tree, I have never seen any 
going up. Rather is not all this movement preliminary to burrowing in the 
earth (as, indeed, the peasants about Cannes say they do) previously to their 
transformation into chrysalides ? Anyhow, they are a singularly curious, 
though not a pleasant lot of creatures, and their most strange habits are well 
worth observing. {See Notes relating to this species of Bombyx at the end 
of the Volume.) 

The walk through the forest of Aitone, one of the largest in Corsica, is full 
of interest. The carriage-road which winds along the southern side of the 
basin or valley is not very steep, and generally in good condition ; but at 
present, on account of the deep ruts made by the heavy timber cars, I send 
on Flora and C°" with the letter to M. Ruelle, and prefer doing the day's work 
on foot. Having passed beyond a tract, partially cleared for charcoal burning, 
and where there are other buildings belonging to M. Chauton, the forest becomes 
excessively dense, and although it is always more and more apparent as you 
proceed, that in subjects of pictorial beauty the immense expanse of these woods 
is inferior to those of Bavella, owing to the want of the unique background of 
crags that completes the scenery there, yet Aitone may boast of a greater 
variety in its foliage — beech, spruce fir, and, high up in the pass, birch, being 
mingled in the most exquisite luxuriance with the Pinns maiitima and Pinus 
lariccio — so that at every step you are struck by fresh " bits " for study, 
though, so to speak, the sea of forest baffles any attempt to portray it as a 


whole. All the way up the pass numberless charms arrest your attention — 
the sunlight twinkling and glittering through the young yellow leaves of 
the great beech trees, or glancing on their tall silvery stems, here black with 
moss, there with long floating tresses of pale green lichen waving from their 
branches. You look up to the highest summits above the pass, where masses 
of pine contrast darkly with cushions of gold-green beech-wood ; lingering 
in shady hollows you mark the chequered lights on the road, or on the pure 
white snow, which higher up is lying in wreaths along the banks by the 
wayside. Nowhere is there any lack of the beautiful throughout. 

Halting here and there to make memoranda, or to rest by the delicious 
streams which are frequent in these high mountains, it is ten before I reach 
the bocca or level space that at the top of the pass divides the two great 
forests, and where that of Aitone abruptly ceases as you leave the hollow 
basin in which it grows. Here, among the last pines crowning the topmost 
edge of the valley, I sit and look down on the vast scene, the deep and broad 
gulf between two mountain walls, thousands of pine and beech trees filling 
up all the intervening space, stretching down in shadowy blue gradations 
towards the sea, and climbing up the barrier ridges on each side ; the sense of 
magnitude and solitude is profoundly impressive, and all I have heard of 
Corsican forest scenery seems little compared with the plenitude of reality 
before me, a scene wanting possibly in elegance of form, but in splendour 
of extent and variety of colour certainly far beyond what I had expected 
to find.C) (See Plate 21.) 

A few minutes' walk suffices to cross the ridge, and to bring me on the 
opposite side of it to the descent leading through the forest of Valdoniello, 
into the great basin of the Niolo, which, from the point I now stand on, is 
seen below in its whole breadth and length to the north-east — Niolo, the heart 
of Corsican romance and liberty — its long lines of hill fading away into 
palest blue on the horizon. ( 2 ) All the landscape here is on a greater scale 
than that I have left ; the lofty Monte Artica on the south, and Monte Cinto 
(the highest summit in the island) on the north, tower above the head of 
this deep and wide valley of the Golo in snowy magnificence, enclosing it 
as it were with gigantic wings ; and less lofty heights bar away the outer 
world from this compactly delineated canton throughout its whole extent. 

(*) Many pines in the A'itone and Valdoniello forests are 120 feet in height ; one in the latter 
forest is twenty-six feet in girth at three feet three inches from the ground, and 150 feet high. — 
Forester, p. 186. 

At the top of the valley of the Golo, the forest of Valdoniello, which crests it, is perhaps superior to 
that of A'itone by its site and extent, the variety of its trees, and its rich vegetation. Many of the pines 
in it are thirty metres high and eight in gw\h. — Valcry, i., p. 119. 

( 2 ) Some few heathen usages have been retained in Corsica, especially among the herdsmen of Niolo. 
The most remarkable is the divination from bones. The diviner takes the shoulder-blade of a goat 
or sheep, polishes it, and reads from it the destinies of the person in question. It must, however, 
be the left shoulder-blade, because by the old proverb, La destra spallafalla. — Gregorovius. 


The great forest of Valdoniello, commencing immediately from the bocca 
or ridge I have crossed, clothes the slopes of the mountains on its eastern, as 
that of A'itone does its western side ; but the proportions of the surrounding 
scenery are here so much more vast that the space covered by the pines 
seems less at a first glance than that in the pass from Porto ; it is only when 
you begin the descent through Valdoniello that you perceive how widely 
in each direction the limits of this grand forest stretch out, and that the 
trees here are of the greatest size, though dwarfed by the huge mountain 
forms above them into apparently less importance. Two or three woodmen 
point out a direct path down the hill to M. Chauton's great establishment ; 
but I prefer descending by the longer carriage route, first breakfasting— for 
it is now nearly noon — and then making a drawing of this magnificent scene, 
where, unlike Bavella, there is no mystery, but all is spread out in one broad 
picture, from the high snowy Artica and the long lines of dark pines 
feathering its sides, down to the farthest limits of the Niolo, a valley that 
may indeed rather be called a small plain, the features of which, however 
dear to the memory of Corsican days of liberty, do not make me regret 
that I shall not have time to visit it ; at least, from this height it has a 
somewhat bare and bleak aspect.( ! ) (See Plate 22.) 

Much of the upper part of this forest is beginning to show the ravages 
of M. Chauton's hatchets ; here and there on the hillside are pale patches 
of cleared ground, with piles of cut and barked pines ; and you pass at times 
a spot where giant trees lie prostrate ; or you see a car with many mules 
drawing up its ponderous burden to the bocca, whence it is carried down to 
Porto or to Sagona. 

" They came, they cut away my tallest pines, 

My dark tall pines, that plumed the craggy ledge. " 

As I descend slowly, commencing drawings which are to be returned 
to on the morrow, my first impressions as to the difficulty of procuring 

( x ) The Niolo, a large and populous valley, is, from its situation and its shepherd inhabitants, one of the 
most curious and interesting parts of the island. The valley, of a regular form — a sort of theatre closed 
in by mountains — has an extraordinary aspect ; its four entrances, two at each end, might be defended 
by a few men against numbers. Small fields, separated by low walls of stones piled up together, serve 
as pasture-grounds throughout its extent. The height, strength, and good looks of the men of Niolo, 
who are almost all shepherds, are remarkable, and their intelligence is extreme ; it is difficult to give an 
idea of how neatly and with what facility they express themselves on their own affairs and the interests 
of their valley. This normal population is about 3,300 in number, among which there are not thirty 
artisans or merchants ; poetry and song are familiar to these rude Arcadians of Corsica. . . . The 
ravages committed in the valley of the Niolo by the Genoese in 1503 is one of the most horrible 
memories connected with their rule ; the inhabitants were hunted down, the houses destroyed, &c. &c. 
Calacuccia, the chief place of the canton, contains more than 600 inhabitants. The period 
of the annual cattle fair, September 8, is the best time to visit the Niolo and to see the population of the 
valley in its most picturesque phase. The women are the only ones left in the island who preserve their 
ancient costume, a costly but durable dress which may be 130 francs in price. A cap of black velvet, 
bordered bv their hair in two tresses, is the head-dress ; a chemise buttoned up to the chin serves for 
a handkerchief ; the dress is of blue cloth, open at the throat, and bordered with velvet. Nevertheless, 


subjects in Valdoniello are a good deal modified. At Bavella, I had said 
the precipices are absolutely close at hand ; while here the great heights 
are far away ; vast slopes of pines in masses, with a bare valley, Niolo, 
beyond — a scene too large to be reducible to a drawing. Yet, on advancing, 
I perceive that here the pines are larger and more spreading, and more 
apt by their detached manner of growth to combine gracefully and grandly 
with the mountains above ; and it must be confessed that the very thinning 
of Valdoniello, which is preluding its downfall, has its advantages in providing 
space for light and shadow, for which there was no room in the close dense 
masses of wood before the work of destruction began. 

Heavy showers of rain fall as I get further down the hill, an inconvenience 
atoned for by the beautiful effects which follow; folds of mist are drawn 
like gauze curtains across parts of the forest, while others are black in cloud 
shade ; the more open portion, where trees have been cut away, disclose 
vistas and depths of inner scenery, and multitudes of stately pillar-like stems ; 
and within these recesses, deeper and farther away from daylight, all, as well 
as their lateral branches relieved, light off the solid wall of pines behind. 
None of these beautiful effects were to be seen in Bavella, nor was there 
there, as here, an undergrowth of silvery birch, suddenly recalling Coolhurst 
or Cumberland. (See Plate 23.) 

At 4 P.M., always descending, I reach the cleared level space in which 
stands the principal establishment of M. Chauton — a busy little world, in 
great contrast with the scenery around it, and reminding me of Robinson 
Crusoe's settlement as represented in beautiful Stothard drawings, those 
exquisite creations of landscape which first made me, when a child, long to 
see similar realities. A large building made of bright pale pine-wood — the 
house of M. Ruelle, the agent — is encircled by grounds divided from the 
forest by palisades, and containing gardens and houses for workmen, and 

this costume is now much left off by the younger girls, who have the bad taste to dress themselves " a la 
mode." — Valery, i., pp. 122, 123. 

To the right lies the shepherd -region of Niolo, the modern canton of Calacuccia, a remarkable 
district, enclosed by the highest mountains, in which the two lakes Ino and Creno are situated. This 
district is a natural stronghold, opening out only at four points, towards Vico, Venaco, Calvi, and Corte. 
In this district live the strongest men in Corsica, patriarchal shepherds, who have faithfully preserved 
the manners of their forefathers. — Gregorovius, p. 316. 

The people of the Niolo are a nomade tribe, who occupy a wild and cold valley on the banks and at 
the source of the Golo. The winter drives them from their villages for eight months in the year, when 
they comedown to the plains, to the gates of Bastia, Ajaccio, Corte, and Rousse. — Grandchamps, p. 22. 

Every road into the Niolo presents inconveniences ; that which leads thither from the Ponte 
Fraucardo goes to the bridge of Castirla, and follows the course of the Golo to the ladder or stair of 
Santa Regina, once a place of great danger, and one where so many men and animals have perished, 
now rendered sufficiently safe even for travellers on horseback. In following the road by the course of 
the Tavignano, the grotto of the Fugitives (Refugies) is seen, the place where the mother of Napoleon 
I. passed a night — one of storms — when, after the catastrophe of Ponte Nuovo, she and other com- 
panions of misfortune fled to the highest mountains. After leaving the Tavignano, the path leads to the 

forest of Alberato di Melo and Mount Pascio, thence to Campo-Tile and the lakes of Ino and Creno. 

Galletti\ pp. 210, 21 1. 



[May 12. 

stables for mules. One hundred and fifty men are employed on the spot, 
mostly from Lucca or Modena, and in many instances accompanied by their 
families — in fact, one sees a small village in the centre of a forest, the 
appearance of the whole betokening extreme order and cleanliness. 

The demure Domenico — little Flora having long since espied and come to 


meet me shows me the way through a formidable array of dogs to M. Ruelle's 

door, where that gentleman receives me with the greatest cordiality— " rooms 
for me and my servant are all ready, would I have some refreshment now?" 
No ; for as the weather is once more clear and fine, I will go out, and return 
later. "Then you must be here punctually at 6, for at that hour I and my 
wife dine, whether you return or not, because directly afterwards I have to 


see to the men's supper." M. Ruelle is a "continental," and adds to friendliness 
and hospitality that vivacity which is so pleasant in the cheery Frenchman. 

I drew on among those tall trees till 5.30 ; the whispering of their foliage, so 
high in air, is heard but faintly. Go ever so little away from the cleared space, 
and you may fancy yourself miles distant in the heart of this sadly grand 
forest — silent, silent ; darkening, darkening, as the sun sinks lower ; a lonely 
and majestic phase of nature, and one by no means painless or free from a 
strange melancholy. 

5.30. — In the wooden palace of Valdoniello M. Ruelle is ready to show me 
a spacious room and comfortable bed up-stairs, everything above and around 
being odorous of fresh pine-wood ; and then, after a glass of absinthe, dinner 
was served in the neatest of rooms, clean and well-furnished, after a pine- 
wood log-house fashion. Madame Ruelle, a pleasant, homely little lady, joined 
us, and a tame pigeon and a cat were all the party besides ; my man G., whom 
they kindly ask to join it, having again a fit of fever. The dinner is excel- 
lent, and, as I remark to my hosts, the effect of the whole house and enter- 
tainment is as if Robinson Crusoe had found the Trois Freres Restaurant on 
his desolate island ; nor, I think, in any place, can the contrasts of life be 
stronger, or events more inverted, than in Corsica ; here, for instance, in the 
heart of a remote mountain forest, where the most ordinary fare would have been 
thankfully met with, is a small palace and a first-rate cuisine ; while at cities 
like Bonifacio or Sartene your comfort is doubtful. My lively and intelligent 
acquaintance are full of pleasant conversation ; they have lived four years at 
Moscow and Novgorod, and after dinner show me an interesting collection 
of Russian photographs ; of their stay in Russia and of the people they knew 
there they speak with regret and affection. As to my praise of Valdoniello, 
there seems to be to that, as to all questions, two sides ; for in winter they are 
sometimes quite blocked up by snow for two or three months ; nor is the 
responsibility of managing so large a number of operatives in so lonely a place 
without its cares. 

My plan of going down to Evisa to-morrow afternoon is first heard with 
dismay, and then utterly repudiated ; and their request that I will stay another 
day with them is urged with so much warmth and heartiness that I accept the 
invitation, the rather that doing so will enable me to complete much more 
work than I could accomplish otherwise. So we pass a pleasant evening, 
talking chiefly of Corsica and Russia ; nor do my two French riddles fail to 
secure their usual brilliant popularity — " Quand est ce que vos souliers font 
vingt-cinq ? — Quand ils sont neuf et treize et trois (neufs et tres etroits);" and 
" Pourquoi dois tu cherir la chicoree ? — Parceque c'est amere (ta mere)." 

At 9 to sleep in the wooden room of the wooden house, a perfectly com- 
fortable chamber, and where one may fancy one's self in an Australian or 
backwood loghouse. 



[May 13. 


May 13. — 4.30 A.M., looking from the 
window, the red sunlight glancing on the 
thousands of pine stems of the forest, recalls 
the crimson lights on the palms in many a 
Nile sunrise. At 5 I am on my way up the 
hill, G. carrying a particularly abundant load 
for breakfast, for it had been arranged by my 
hospitable host and hostess that I was to pass 
the day in the forest, so as not to lose time 
by returning ; and, said M. Ruelle, who busied 
himself in seeing the eatables packed, " Voila 
un gigot d'agneau, des truites, du pain, et du 
fromage et du vin ; est-ce qu'on mange bien 
au milieu d'un foret ?" 

The day passed in hard work about the 
two forests, until towards 3 P.M., when the 
clouds, which, as yesterday, had added much 
to the beauty of the scenery, ceased to be 
either pleasant or useful, and dissolved in 
rain, so that it became difficult to make any 
more drawings requiring continued attention. 
While in A'itone I was convinced, as on my 
first passing through that forest, of the im- 
practicability of giving an idea of the whole 
scene. Several of those groups of gigantic 
trees were, however, wonderful to look at, 
and especially some which, dead, and white 
as ivory, shoot up out of the purply gloom of 
the deep forest, their antler-like heads looking 
like silver as they caught gleams of sunshine. 

In Valdoniello, where at 1 1 breakfast was 
arranged by a clear stream — possibly one of 
the sources of the Golo — no portion of this 
sublime forest landscape is more striking 
than the flat tops of some of the singularly 
Turneresque or Martinesque pines, relieving 
almost positively black against the great dis- 
tance beyond, an effect which is not seen 
among the more crowded trees ; and, moreover, 
I should say that these Valdoniello pines ex- 
ceed any I have seen both in girth and height. 
Unlike Bavella, so delightfully full of birds, 


the forest here seems very destitute of animal life, hardly a note being heard 
from hour to hour, a deficiency with which probably the constant sound of 
the hatchet and frequent passage of timber carts may have somewhat to do. 

While at breakfast, two gendarmes passing asked me why, at Evisa, I 
had gone to the inn of Constantino Colombi, an Italian refugee, instead of 
to the Hotel Carrara ; so that it seems after all there is really some better 
abode at the village than that I was taken to by coachman Domenico ; 
and now that the name is mentioned it recalls to me that the gendarme at 
Carghese spoke to me about the Carrara house. 

Late in the afternoon rain-showers prevented all work, except rapidly 
noting down flying effects of cloud and mist, or making memoranda of the 
fine masses of pines mixed with groups of birch trees ; and as a little book 
sufficed for this, I sent G., still suffering more or less from fever, down to the 
house. After all, at this great elevation, and so early in the summer, it is a 
matter of congratulation that I have not had more bad weather to hinder 
my tour ; nor, in quite clear days can this broad open forest be nearly so 
beautiful as now, when it is varied. by cloud and light. 

At the hospitable Maison Ruelle the evening passed cheerfully with these 
amiable and sensible people. Before dinner we visited the little gardens, 
bordered neatly with wooden palings. Assuredly, " Lo, we found it in the 
wood," if a scriptural motto were desired, would be the one most suitable for 
this Valdoniello palace. 

May 14. — The morning is glorious. M. Ruelle, followed by great watch- 
dogs and innumerable puppydom, greets me at sunrise with coffee. At 5.30 
I send Flora and C a to wait at the foot of the Aitone pass near Evisa. The 
passage of the heavy timber carts along these roads after rain makes them far 
from pleasant to drive over, besides that on foot I can better study the 
immense hollow of Aitone forest, with its multitudinous glories, chaos of pine 
below, and gold-cushioned beech woods above. I take leave of the hospitable 
M. Ruelle, and begin to ascend the ridge by the short steep winding path 
among the pines ; G., who by dint of quinine is better, follows, but Flora, who 
knows that her primary sphere of obedience is to stick to the carriage, and yet 
who has now come to believe that she should not lose sight of me, is puzzled, 
and sees before her a divided duty, finally rushing to the road to resume her 
old habits of life. Perhaps the finest scene of all here is about half way up 
the ridge, whence you look down on a stern line of giant pines standing out 
sharply and wall-like against the clear distance and voluminous folds of forest 
which fringe the edges of snowy Mount Artica ; this morning, bright and 
cloudless, would not, however, have admitted of my making any drawing 
opposite the sunrise, so that I have been lucky in the clouds of yesterday. 
(See Plate 22.) 



At 8, having rejoined the trap, Flora and C a , M. Chauton's charcoal 
station is passed, and thenceforth is Bombyx-land, the white caterpillar sacs 
high upon the trees shining like silvery Abou-Jerdanns on Nile palms. All 
the pines that I observe so infested are thin and not strong looking ; whether 
being diseased they attract settlements of Bombyx, or whether the insects are 
the origin of the decay of the tree, I know not, but, certainly, in the interior of 
the forest, where the trees are so magnificent, the Bombyx prevails not. At 
Valdoniello I scarcely saw an instance of it. At 9 the forest is fairly left ; 
the careful Domenico, who, unlike swearing Peter, never loses an opportunity 
of well-treating his horses, stops for some minutes at a fountain ; and then 
on to Evisa by 9.30 A.M. 

Here the Hotel Carrara, on the second floor of a very tidy little house, is 
a surprise, from its absolute cleanliness and neatness. Domenico's excuse for 
not having gone there on our way from Porto, is that the mistress does not 
receive any one unless they bring a recommendation from some known 
person, and this may be really the case, because the taciturn landlady, on my 
saying, " You must have many guests with such a nice clean house," replies, 
" Si riceve pochi ; commandanti, colonelli, gente chi come voi conoscono 
Mons. Chauton ; gli altri si mand' a basso — few are received here ; officers 
and such as, like yourself, know M. Chauton ; the rest are sent down " — 
" basso " meaning the dirty pothouse where I slept two nights ago, and which 
is nearly opposite, lower in the road. 

The perfect propriety of the two little bed-rooms here, and of the plain 
well-furnished sitting-room, could not be surpassed in even a Dutch country 
inn ; nor could the most fastidious have found fault with the breakfast of 
omelette, supported by ham and olives, mutton with Lazagne-pasta, first-rate 
trout — generally, they say, to be had here all through the year — broccio, 
walnuts, Vico raisins, and excellent wine, served, as they were, by the neat 
mistress of the house and her daughter, the prettiest girl I have seen in these 
Corsican travels, with light blue eyes and long black eyelashes. Both mother 
and daughter are dressed in the short black silk spencer and coloured cotton 
gown, and the double head handkerchief worn in this part of the island. They 
tell me that in the winter there are frequently three or four feet of snow here 
for months together. Who, in a remote mountain village of Corsica, would 
have looked for such a locanda — faultless in point of cleanliness, good fare, 
and homely civility, and with a charge, too, of only two and a half francs 
a head for breakfast ? It is something at least to have seen life in Evisa from 
two distinct points of view. 

Off at 1 1, and soon leaving the forest road to Aitone on the left, drive to 
the village of Cristinaccie, a small hamlet containing some tolerably good 
houses, at the head of the valley ; thence crossing by a good and large bridge 
the torrent which runs by the pass of Otta to Porto, the road commences a 


steep ascent, occupying more than an hour. The first part of it is very 
interesting and beautiful, from the noble ilex groves through which it passes, 
and from the fine woods of mixed ilex and chesnut you look down on in the 
deep vale above which you are rising. Sheets of white mayflower contrast 
with bright green or yellow brown foliage of the two sorts of trees, and glitter 
among the bare gray arms and moss-grown trunks of the dark evergreen oaks, 
immense in size, and feathering the mountain sides down into far depths of 
shade. Farther up, these woods are left behind, as loftier heights are neared, 
where there are crowns and cushions of brilliant yellow beech among granite 
cliffs, and dusky hued smooth rocks shining and sparkling with streaks of 
white snow and streams of running water. 

At 12.30, winding along the edge of precipices, guarded here by good 
parapets, three or four of the monstrous timber-laden carriages are passed. 
Quite across the valley, Evisa is seen, compact above its massive chesnut 
groves ; far below is the little village of Cristinaccie. Coachman Domenico, 
who never hastens his horses up hill — they obey with a word, — " fate 
osservazione, Signore, come ubbidiscono !" — seizes on these opportunities to 
indulge in ebullitions assumed to be of a vocal character, if that may be 
so called which is rather a succession of mildly dismal moans in a minor 
key, sadly slow and monotonous. No cheerful air have I yet heard hummed 
or whistled by any Corsican, male or female ; the women, instead of singing 
those far-sounding and beautiful melodies so often listened to in days of 
Italian life, walk mutely. Corsican gravity is continually noticeable. " Tout 
est grave," says M. Merimee, " en Corse." 

At 1 p.m., after rest for the horses at a fountain, the bocca or top of the 
pass is reached. A perspective of road succeeds to the hill-climb, descending 
always towards the valley of Vico, and offering, as it recedes from the higher 
mountains, finer views in the direction of the great ranges towards Monte 
Artica and Monte Rotondo, where darkening clouds tell that rain storms, as 
yesterday, are in full play. All the drive is remarkable for beauty, and of 
that kind so characteristic of woody Corsica ; extreme greenness, ilex trees in 
detached groups or crowded into dells, slopes of fern and asphodel, distances 
of pure blue towards the sea, and snow-topped hills lost in cloud inland, 
where a road leads to Guagno and its baths at the foot of Monte Rotondo. 

At 1.30 the town of Vico( 1 ) is visible among vineyards and cultivation, in 

(*) Vico, a small town, the chief place of the canton of that name, formerly possessed a tribunal, and 
was always the head of the old province of Vico. The Bishop of Sagona resided there. Among the 
communes composing the canton is Renno, where that widow was born who, during the government of 
General Paoli, devoted her two sons to their country. Having received the news that the eldest had 
been killed in battle, she hastily armed the other and accompanied him (to Sollacaro) in order to present 
him to the General, whom the incident moved to tears. — Galletti, p. 139. 

On the way from Vico to Guagno, between Musso and Boccasorro, are the ruins of the castle of La 
Zurlina, occupied in 1488 by Rinuccio de Leca, relative and confederate of the illustrious Jean Paul. 
The sulphur baths of Guagno, efficacious against rheumatism and cutaneous maladies, are the least ill- 

K 2 


the hollow of a deep valley ; and not far off on the right stands its detached 
convent, greatly praised for its position. So I send on Flora and C a to the 
hotel, of which Domenico somewhat proudly reports, " E' all 'uso d'Ajaccio ; 
Vico e citta — the inn is after the fashion of Ajaccio, for Vico is a city," and 
I walk on, taking, at a junction of three roads, that which leads to Ajaccio 
through Sari, the other two being those to Sagona and to Guagno, by 

It is hardly possible to visit a more beautiful scene of mixed cultivation 
and wild distance than that which opens from the Vico convent, where, after 
passing through a small ancient-looking hamlet, with very dark black-brown 
houses, I soon arrived. Leafiness is the general characteristic of Corsica, but 
here it is more observable than ever, so completely clothed is every part of the 
landscape with luxuriant foliage, except at the very tops of the mountains. 
Everywhere a profusion of olives and walnut and fig trees, with much vineyard 
and corn, give a cheery air to the nearer scenery, while all the parts less culti- 
vated are carpeted with fern and shaded by noble chesnut groves, and though 
the valley is quite surrounded by mountains, yet it is sufficiently spacious to 
be free from any look of confinement or gloom. In the middle of all this 
basin of tufted greenery stands the town of Vico, a compact cluster of 
dwellings, backed by a tall and not unpicturesque campanile, completing the 
picture, doubtless one of the most beautiful in Corsica. {See Plate 24.) 

It was 6 P.M. before — having finished the drawings I had commenced on 
the convent side of the town — I went on to Vico. But I regret to say 
that the place was much lessened in my esteem by becoming more nearly 
acquainted with it ; the particularly unclean streets, the appalling odours on 
all sides, and the hotel, " all' uso d'Ajaccio," not appearing at all prepos- 
sessing after the perfect little inn at Evisa, or even those of Carghese and La 
Piana, albeit those are comparatively unfrequented localities, while Vico is a 
place to which a diligence runs daily from the capital, and which at one time 
was a Sous-prefecture. 

Before dusk there is still time to see the farther side of the town, but a 
walk through it, and for some way along the Guagno road, shows me — luckily, 
since my time is limited — that there will be no necessity to make drawings in 

kept and the most frequented in Corsica ; there is even an inn and a chapel there, and the number of 
bathers is as great as 600 or 800 annually. . . Guagno is in repute for the purity of its Italian. 
Vico, it is said, has the same merit. The French language in Corsica is not at all corrupted, and bears 
no resemblance to the barbarous patois of many of our own provinces ; it is singular that these moun- 
taineer islanders speak the Italian of Rome, and the French of Paris, for the dialect of Corsica is the 
least corrupt of Italian dialects, and infinitely more intelligible than the jargon of Naples, Genoa, 
Bologna, or Milan. Vico, a small industrious old town, which has nearly 1,400 inhabitants, is one of 
the Sous-Prefectures suppressed under the empire. — Valery, i., p. 11. 

Guagno, the most populous village of the canton of Soccia, is one of which the inhabitants are nearly 
all shepherds or agriculturists, and they possess large flocks of sheep and goats. Their cheese is of the 
best quality ; and they cultivate some tobacco, Nicotina rustica. — Galletti, p. 140. 

May 1 5. J 



that direction, and I return to the hotel as the gray hues of evening are falling 
on all this beautiful valley scenery. 

Meanwhile, on the arrival of the diligence, dinner is announced — a table 
d'Jwte meal, hastily and ill served, though of tolerable quality. Three travellers 
by the vehicle assist at the function, besides the conducteur, myself and 
servant ; and the courteous and pleasant manners of the Corsicans soon went 
far to atone for the impressions made by the rough service d hotel, unwashed 
and offensively-smelling floors, and other disagreeable etcetera. Of the three 
travellers, two seem Government employes ; they discourse chiefly on local 


vi co. 

matters, also on fevers, and on the principal places in Corsica infested by 
malaria. The east side of Ajaccio, in summer time, they unite in condemning. 

May 15. — I leave the hotel at Vico before 5 A.M., but carry with me 
no pleasant memories. Till 7 I draw the town once more, and then go to 
the Evisa road junction, or TploSos, to wait for the trap, D., G., and Flora. 
As I sit by a little chapel conspicuous for its singularly ugly architecture — 
the absence in Corsica of the numerous pretty chapels and shrines that so 
adorn Italian landscapes is to be regretted — the -view all around is very 
beautiful ; the convent hill side is absolutely one dense mass of chesnut 
foliage, and everywhere the extreme greenness is delightful. The blue 


mountain heights and parts of the foreground remind me a good deal of 
Subiaco ; here, however, all is richer in covering, and the scenery of a 
more open character. Most charming and complete are the valley of Vico and 
its fresh verdure, and the recollections of their great beauty are a good set-off 
to those of its town and hotel. 

The diligence road down to Sagona, broad and furnished with parapets, 
runs along the side of a valley, gradually descending to the shore, and the 
drive occupies little more than an hour from the junction of the Evisa and Sari 
roads. In the upper part of the vale there is much cultivation, particularly 
of the vine — the village of Balogna, close to Vico, being famous for its 
vintage — but the hills are not remarkable for beauty, nor does the rest of 
the way present any novelty ; fern, red and white cystus, foxglove, and other 
wild flowers are plentiful and lovely near the road ; chesnut and ilex groves 
below it — all constant accompaniments in Corsican journeying. Certain 
objects, which look like wheelless and bottomless cars, or decayed wheel- 
barrows of large dimensions, puzzle me by their frequent occurrence by 
Corsican waysides, and are explained by Domenico to be measures for 
broken stone used for road-mending by cantonniers, and are called ° casci di 
roccaglie." The stone-breakers and road-menders in the island, unlike the 
woodmen and cultivators, are all natives. 

Towards the sea the valley broadens, and the familiar "maquis" resumes its 
place in the landscape ; the few forlorn houses representing the ancient Sagona 
and the Porte de Sagone are reached shortly after 8 A.M. Then follows the 
pleasant shore drive, and the beautiful vale of the Liamone with its fields of 
corn and its gay yellow iris marshes, after which there is nothing more 
worth noting, except the number of bee-eaters on the telegraph wires, 
and that a large snake crosses the road at the Liamone mouth. And thus 
Teucchia, and the wayside " Repos des Voyageurs," is reached at 9 A.M. 
Here they tell me Miss C. is expected on her way to the forests of Aitone 
and Valdoniello ; the untiring zeal of this lady may be of great use to many 
hereafter, if she will publish her observations, which are sure to be many 
and shrewd. 

It is too soon yet for breakfast, but there are many very calm and 
" shadowed coves by a sunny shore " hereabouts, and a sketch of the granite 
rocks and the distant gulf hills well passes the time. Long points — a la Corse — 
stretch out and form a tranquil little bay, where scarcely a plash of sea is heard. 
Later, G. presents a breakfast of cold hare and snow-white cheese, assuring me, 
as the head of the former is wanting, that he had previously examined it at 
the hotel, and that its long ears precluded any fear of its belonging to the 
genus felts. The judicious Flora comes to assist at the polishing of bones, 
running every other minute to inspect the carriage and luggage, and to bark 
at imaginary marauders. She returns, when breakfast is over, to her post at 


the trap, I to my drawing, the Suliot to the gathering of marine bobolia, and 
the examination of blue jelly-fish, which, as he truly says, abound here as they 
do on the long breezy sands of storm-beaten Askalon, or on the shore at 
Eleutheropolis, opposite Saloniki, where I was once detained in idleness and 
semi-starvation for three days on account of contrary winds. But the white 
amaryllis of these lands was wanting there. 

At 1 1 Domenico, who has been investing in crawfish and other marine 
edibles, is ready with his capital little ponies, always well kept and well driven, 
and away I go back to Ajaccio. I pass the fig gardens and vineyards of the 
village of Calcatoggio at noon, stopping now and then to take a look, or a 
memorandum, of Carghdse, the Mainote settlement, on its long and solitary 
promontory ; or admiring the sheets of rose-coloured cystus-bloom amongst 
the wide tracts of " maquis ;" and thus, by a walk up the hill, reach the Bocca 
di S. Sebastiano (vide page 119) by 12.30 P.M. Miss C. not having been 
met with, Domenico opines that the lady has gone round to Vico by Sari, 
and with Corsican shrewdness, remarks, " Quella vuol veder tutta l'lsola e 
quando vi sono due strade andar e ritornar, non si contenta con una — that 
lady wishes to see all Corsica, and when there are two roads to come and go 
by, she uses both." 

The way back is well and rapidly got over, the rather that, as is its 
custom of an afternoon, it begins to rain. How invariably, on perceiving 
some little white building a long way ahead, does one find it, on drawing 
near, to be no Italian shrine, no picturesque Greek chapel, but a mere box- 
like house. In Corsica one must not look for architectural graces, except, 
perhaps, among the tombs. 

2.30 P.M. — At Ajaccio once more. Letters and papers, and a pleasant 
welcome at the Ottavi hotel, and from M. le Commandant Lambert. And, 
as usual, the high slanting wall by the barracks is blackened with swarming 

This, the second tour in Corsica, has been all that could be desired as to 
carriage, horses, and driver, the young man Domenico being a careful whip 
and kind master to his cattle. But he wants to know if I can certainly start 
for Corte on Monday morning, a decision which as yet I cannot arrive at, as 
it must depend on weather, among other things. 



Plans for a Third Tour in the Island — A Visit to Mellili, the Country House of the Euonaparte Family — 
The Great Ilex Tree — The Deserted Gardens — Thoughts at Mellili — Revisit the Rocks of St. 
Antoine— Set Off on a Third Tour — Good Road along the Valley of the Gravone — Laden Timber 
Carts — Gardens and Cultivation — Burned Forest of Vero — Cloud and Rain — Reach JBocognano — 
The "Cafe des Amis" — M. Berlandi — His Account of People Lost in the Forests — Weather 
Clear, and shows Monte d'Oro magnificently — Imposing and Grand Scenery — Great Chesnut 
Woods — Visit to the House whence Napoleon Escaped — Tranquil and Sombre Character of the 
Landscape and Villages — Leave Bocognano — Pass between Monte d'Oro and Monte Renoso — ■ 
Beautiful View from the Top of the Bocca or Pass — Burned Forest of Vizzavona — Descent to the 
Village of Vivario — Domenico and Flora are found there — No Room in the Hotel — Decide on 
going on to Ponte del Vecchio — Reach Serraggio — Very Beautiful Scenery — Pass Lugo and 
Sta. Maria di Venaco — Chesnut Woods — Descent to the Valley of the Tavignano — Approach to 
Corte — Its Appearance — Citadel Bridge — Interior of the Town — Fete and Confusion — No Room 
in the Hotel— Difficulty in obtaining Lodgings — M. Corteggiani — A Small Locanda found — 
Porters of Corte — A Sleepless Night. 

May 1 6. — Rain has fallen in torrents through the whole day, holding up only 
towards evening, in timely allowance for a walk by the seaside. Before this 
walk becomes as much frequented by those flocks of English, whom hope — 
that springs eternal in the human breast — forcibly pictures to certain minds as 
making a new " Promenade des Anglais " on these shores, may the drainage be 
remodelled ! for at present the nasal sense is much disturbed by its condition. 

But the hours bring plenty of work — abundant writing of letters, among 
others one to Olmeto, from which place I hear by a note that Mr. B. 
continues to get worse ; a call at the Prefecture, where I find the amiable 
Prefet recovering slowly from the effects of his accident. Taking great 
interest in my journeys through the island, he promises letters of intro- 
duction for various places on the eastern and northern sides, where hotels 
do not always exist. Zicavo, Ghisoni, and the forests of Sorba and 
Marmano, are among the places he recommends me to see, but I doubt 
my being able to accomplish the whole programme he draws up for my next 
and last tour. After all, counting the chances of bad weather, and other 
possible causes of interruption, a tour of two months, let an artist work as hard 
as he may, very barely suffices to give an idea of the scenery of so large an 
island as this — one hundred and fifteen miles long, by fifty or sixty broad ; 
nevertheless some twenty or more views of the most strikingly characteristic 
portions of its landscape may serve to give home-stayers a tolerably correct 
notion of Corsica, perhaps even to induce some of the migratory to visit it. 

The unlucky Miss C. is supposed to have only succeeded in getting as far 
as Vico, and to be there imprisoned, because the violent rains will without 


doubt have made the mountain roads impassable. Meanwhile, my good 
fortune in seeing the forests so easily is a matter of congratulation. 

The Ottavi talk to me of the larger hotel they hope to establish next 
winter ; and I hope they may do so, for they are sure to prosper. Madame 
Ottavi's coffee — she learned to make it in Algeria — is alone worth much, 
not to speak of care and obliging ways, cleanliness, and good cookery, besides 
the assiduous sweepings of the waiter Bonifazio. 

To-morrow I hope to see Mellili, formerly the country house of the 
Buonapartes ; to get a drawing of the St. Antoine scenery ; and on the 
following day to start for Corte and Bastia. 

Late in the day comes a budget of letters-introductory from M. Gery. 
M. Prosper Merimee, who promised little, did much in being the cause of 
my receiving these letters, which will be extremely useful. 

May 17. — The day, cloudy and wet early, clears at noon ; the trap and 
ponies come, driven by their master Jean the Vaudois, Jehu Domenico and 
Flora having set off yesterday to Corte, where there is some particular fete. 
Jean discourses on the great security of the Corsican roads in our days, and of 
the vice versa-ness of those in Sardinia ; also on the advantages of climate 
here, which had restored him to health, after he had been getting worse year 
by year at his native Luzerna in the Vaudois hills. 

The drive is a pleasant one, and all things are brighter than when I was 
here on April 14 ; the vines out in full leaf, and all the verdure of cultivation — 
now the characteristic of these hills, which but a few years back were so bare — 
fresh and vivid, and resounding with the voices of multitudes of quails. There 
are two large penal establishments or penitenciers on these hills ; the lower, 
whence a road (see page 29) goes on to St. Antonio and some villages beyond, 
is used as a farming depot for cattle, horses, sheep, &c. ; the land around 
both this and the building higher up the hill is being brought into cultivation 
by the convicts, who are all French, and mostly youths sentenced for venial 
offences to various terms of imprisonment. All wear a prison costume, and 
are attended by armed guardiani. 

A steep pull leads to Castelluccio, the upper or chief penitencier, which 
stands very high, and commands a magnificent lake-like view over the head 
of the gulf of Ajaccio and the central mountains. The place gives an im- 
pression of that order and good administration for which the French are zo 
justly credited, and the convicts, who, I am told, really like their life here, 
have, or seem to have, a look of comfort and cheerfulness, while turning the 
wilderness into a garden. In the grounds about the establishment I observe 
specimens of the Australian Eucalyptus or gum-tree, now so frequently planted 
and flourishing at Cannes and Golf Jouan. 

Beyond the Penitencier, the road, skirting the hill-sides towards the east 



[May l J. 

among slopes of rich " olives hoary to the wind," dives downward, and ends 
among several villas half hidden in foliage, and as Jean Vaudois has no idea 
of the position of Mellili, it is some time before I find the path to it ; 
there exists, however, a short cut leading directly down to the house from 
Castelluccio, not far below which is the site of this very interesting spot. 

Mellili is one of the places that has left with me a stronger impression 
than most I have visited. The house, always inhabited in the early days 
of Napoleon by his father and Madame Letitia Buonaparte, is now neglected. 


Bequeathed by Cardinal Fesch to the municipality of Ajaccio, it is let to 
peasants, who keep sheep and pigs in the once probably well-cared-for 
grounds. The building, apparently an ordinary farmhouse or villa, tall, 
small-windowed, and with a forlorn look, presents nothing remarkable to 
the observer ; many large gray rounded granite rocks are scattered near it ; 
great growth of cactus, and long-armed thin-foliaged olive-trees with moss- 
grown stems. You pass beyond the house through a wilderness of vegeta- 
tion, and find a level space covered with a tangle of cystus mixed with long 
grass and lupines, among which a few sheep are feeding ; and at the edge 
of this sort of platform stands the great ilex tree — truly, as Valery says, 


" un arbre historique," for its shade was the favourite retreat of Napoleon 
the First. 

This celebrated ilex tree — a large portion of which has been broken off 
by time or storms — is of great size, and stretches its venerable branches 
droopingly above the verdure and the stone seat it overshadows. Its tufted 
and thick foliage, almost yellow in colour, contrasts strongly with the green 
below and with the gray olives on every side ; beyond its dark black-brown 
stem and deep gray branches the blue gulf and hills gleam ; and there is 
no sound to break the sad quiet of this once gay spot but the voice of the 
wild pigeon and the sweet harmony of many nightingales. Yet the undying 
spirit of the past seems to pierce the dim veil of years and neglect, to colour 
with life all this impressive and solitary place, and to people Mellili with 
visions of beauty and history connected with the family who, as children, 
played here unnoticed, but who grew up to be the most prominent objects 
in the sight of a wondering world. Madame Letitia, her five sons, four 
of them to sit in after years on thrones ; and her three daughters, two of 
them to be queens. The boy Napoleon reading below the great oak, or 
pacing about what was then the garden, looking to those majestic mountains 
beyond the sea; in after days (1790) meditating on the fierce Buttafuoco 
letter (it is dated from Mellili), or on the whirlwind of change so soon to 
astonish Europe ; ten years later, visiting once more, and for the last time, 
his favourite haunts, when the fortunes of Corsica were beginning to seem 
insignificant among those of so many states, and mainly of France. 

Like the talking oak of the poet, could the aged tree but answer our 

questions, and be " garrulously given, 

A babbler in the land," 

what might he not tell us of the days when Elise, Caroline, and Pauline 
Buonaparte sported in its shade, undreaming of the crowns of Tuscany and 
Naples and the princely Borghese halls ; when Joseph, Lucien, Louis, and 
Jerome played, and Napoleon paced and meditated below its branches. 
Melancholy Mellili, well does the repose of the neglected garden and the 
beautiful scenery around suit such memories ! (*) 

After making some studies of the great tree, I left the place and climbed 
up the short steep path to Castelluccio ; from thence you look over the great 
slope of olive grounds down almost to the gulf, and mark where a good way 

( l ) Mellili, a garden of olives on a height, formerly belonging to the Jesuits and to the family 
Buonaparte, was the favourite spot of Napoleon's youth. Here he wrote his letter to Count Matthew 
Buttafuoco. By an unquestioned tradition, Buonaparte often meditated in the shade of an ancient ilex 
tree planted near the house ; there he gave himself up at twenty years of age to dreams full of hope 
and confidence in the future— dreams that nevertheless could not equal the reality of his history. The 
Mellili gardens were visited for the last time by Buonaparte on his return from Egypt, ten years after 
the date of his popular letter to Count Buttafuoco. He passed one day there. — Valery, i., p. 175. 

[The letter to Count Buttafuoco is given in full at page 370 of Gregorovius. It is dated " From 
my cabinet of Mellili, January 23, Year Two." — E. L.] 


beyond the old house, and conspicuous by its greenness in the midst of the 
sea of gray foliage stands the vast evergreen oak of Mellili — a mournful place, 
and one which cannot fail to engrave on some minds its outline and beauty 
in fixed characters. 

At 3 P.M., having driven down to the lower penitencier, I walked to the 
rocks of St. Antoine, and, until 5, made a drawing of that wild, strange scene ; 
the multitude of granite masses, piled up and thrown hither and thither, 
make a fine contrast with the* delicate South-down-like turf below, dotted 
with patches of cystus and lentisk ; but the scene is by no means an easy 
one to represent. (See Plate 3.) 

At 6.30 back to Ajaccio. Poor Miss C. has returned from Vico, having 
seen nothing of the forests she has taken so much trouble to visit ; for, 
as was foreseen, the roads through them are quite impassable, owing to the 
late rains. 

All things are arranged for a start to-morrow on my third and last journey 
in Corsica. 

May 18. — There are heavy clouds on the mountains; but, as in Cretan 
travels in May, 1864, what avails it to wait for clear weather ? Just twenty 
days remain to June 6, when the fortnightly steamer leaves Ajaccio for Nice, 
and as that must be the date of my exit from Corsica, this journey to the 
centre and north of the island must be put in practice at once — even at the 
risk of bad weather preventing the pass of Vivario being visible — or not at all. 
Off, therefore, once more at 6.30 A.M., with the same carriage and first-rate 
ponies, but minus Flora and Domenico, one Vicenzo being the new driver until 
Corte is reached. 

Freshness of gardens and mulberry plantations near Ajaccio, with melody 
of nightingales, are the accompaniments of morning on each side of the road 
(which, as far as the turning to Vico, I have already gone over,) and the exten- 
sive views as one advances nearer to the mountains must be very fine in clear 
weather ; now, however, ever-thickening clouds hide the pass to Vivario and 
Corte, so well seen from above Ajaccio (see Plate 1), and by degrees efface 
all the distant landscape. Observation, therefore, is strictly limited to the 
foreground, to sheets of white cystus, and here and there to a few peasants, 
whose dark dresses subtract nothing from the gray gloom of the scene. 

At the twelfth kilometre — to me an ominous number in Corsican carriage 
life — an incident occurs to break the monotony of the drive ; the seat by the 
driver being occupied by sacks of barley, G. is obliged to sit in the carriage, 
and, consequently, the proceedings of the new Jehu cannot be watched with 
satisfactory caution, nor did we know that he had gone fast asleep, and that 
the reins had fallen from his hand, until the ponies suddenly turned off ct 
right angles to the road into a path which led straight to a sort of quarry, 

Mayi8.] THE ROAD TO CORTE. 157 

over the edge of which, in ten paces more, we should have executed a second 
Bastelica somersault, had not Jehu awoke in time. 

8 a.m. — The river Gravona, coming from the high ridge between the Monti 
Renoso and d'Oro, runs between the sides of a great basin or gorge, after- 
wards widening out into a spacious valley to the little plain to the east of 
Ajaccio, where it falls into the sea. 

Up this valley lies the road to Corte. The way to Vico by Sariola and 
Sari is on the left, that to Corte keeps always in the valley of the Gravone 
through a green and beautiful country, much cultivated with corn, and with 
groups of olives growing among detached masses of granite. Beyond a single 
wayside house — where there are two mounted gendarmes, and two on foot, 
with a captured deserter from Castelluccio — the road enters the hills, and the 
valley narrows considerably, near what is, if I remember rightly, the Ponte 
d'Ucciani, the village of that name, as well as Tavaro and others, peering 
through clouds high up on the wooded hills far above. Vincenzo points out 
Ucciani thus : " In that village lives the father of the other coachman, 
Domenico," and thereby plainly shows that he is not a Corsican, for a native 
would first have related that it was at Ucciani that the first Napoleon was 
sheltered when he so narrowly escaped being destroyed at Bocognano. The 
Gravona, here a foaming and clear broad river, runs between fringes of foliage ; 
the wild hills around are covered with cystus growth and " maquis ; " and 
granite heights, now deeply purple with cloud shade, all combine to show that 
this would be fine scenery for walking excursions in propitious weather. At a 
turn of the road hereabouts two of the great timber carts are suddenly encoun- 
tered — no pleasant neighbours when you are driving near a precipice-edge to 
which there is no parapet, for where the descent is steep it is not easy to stop 
the mules. 

Gardens, corn-fields, and chesnuts, now vary the wilder scenery, and at 9. 1 5 
the hamlet of Castellano (?) with a roadside diligence house is reached ; here 
is to be the mid-day halt, a pleasant quiet spot near the river, below chesnut 
trees which grow among grass and fern, and close to a stream abounding in 
watercresses, serving well for breakfast. High up on the north side of the 
valley, a black and desolate tract — the forest of Vero, burned not long since — 
stretches away like a dark curtain ; and it matters little that showers of rain 
prevent drawing, for the grim sad skeleton trees of the burned forest would 
make but a mournful landscape. At 10.45 it is time to move on. 

All the scenery of the valley of the Gravona seems of a fine and pic- 
turesque character, but increasing mists hid much of it towards noon. 
The good and broad Route Imperiale, constantly ascends, and in parts 
steeply, at a considerable height above the river ; fields of green fern and 
gleaming spaces of blooming asphodel, their pale bright flowers shining 
starrily off dark foliage ; large masses of chesnut wood ; these are what I see ; 


but the opposite side of the picture, the Monte d'Oro, which must give so 
much character to the pass, is lost in thick cloud, and always unseen. After 
1 P.M. I send on the trap to Bocognano, a rash act soon repented of, as hard 
rain begins in earnest, and tree shelter is often necessary ; from time to time 
there are glimpses of the Gravona through the world of chesnut trees along 
which I pass, and at 3, when the steepest part of the ascent is overcome, the 
road, now level, reaches the great hollow or semicircle below Mont Renoso, on 
the side of which the villages of Bocognano are situated among the folds of 
thick wood, almost entirely chesnut, which clothe all this region. Bocognano 
is not, as I had imagined, a single town or village, but a collection of several 
hamlets scattered among the woods, some of them being only discoverable 
by the curling smoke from their houses. One tall campanile alone is seen : 
in Corsica churches are not very numerous. 

The chief hamlet of Bocognano ( ! ), the first reached from Ajaccio, from 
which it is distant forty kilometres, is not in itself picturesque. The main 
road forms the high street, the houses of which it consists being nearly all of 
an ordinary kind, white-washed, with dark wooden window shutters and roofs, 
very rustic, and with much of that sombre dull look common to most Corsican 
buildings. Detached buildings are built above and below the village, as well as 
beyond it on the road to Corte, all more or less hidden by the luxuriant ches- 
nut trees which grow on every side. Half-way through the hamlet, on the 
left hand, is a humble Locanda, called Cafe des Amis, and here, again, the 
interior, as is so frequently noticeable in this island, is far better than the out- 
side promises, the " hotel " consisting of two very decent and clean bed-rooms, 
and a rather bare sitting-room, the latter adorned with representations of the 
life of Napoleon I., the former with a few prints of a religious character. Of 
the two dormitories I choose the least and worst furnished, because it looks out 
over the magnificent valley of chesnut woods towards Monte d'Oro, so that if 
to-morrow's sunrise should prove fine, I have my work immediately before 
me. Meanwhile, pouring rain continuing to fall, a change of clothes, rest, 
and writing up journal till 5 P.M., are the order of the day for the present. 
5.30 P.M. — M. Berlandi calls — the Marechal de Logis de Gendarmerie — to 

( ] ) At Bocognano I came upon the same road I had formerly travelled from Corte. — Boswell, p. 358. 

Bocognano is at the foot of Monte d'Oro, and consists of ten hamlets, or knots of houses, embosomed 
in a forest of chesnut-trees of surprising size and of the most picturesque forms. These hamlets are 
scattered very capriciously ; the houses are built of unwrought stone, and do not exceed two storeys. — 
Bennet, p. 15. 

Bocognano has some factories of coarse Corsican cloth, called pelone. The appearance of these 
rustic houses causes a satisfaction not inspired by more majestic buildings, when one reflects on the 
custom which exists- here and in some other villages of the island. If an inhabitant builds a house, 
the neighbours on each Sunday, on coming from mass, carry him one load of stones, a voluntary and 
mutual tax. — VaJery, i., p. 149. 

Bocognano, near the entrance of the wild defile of Vizzavona. It is surrounded by dark mountains 
covered with wood, and having snow-clad summits ; and the whole district bears a solemn grandiose 
character. — Gregoravitts, p. 343. 


whom M. le Commandant Lambert has given me a note which I had forwarded 
on arriving ; a polite and pleasant fellow, who offers me any assistance I may 
require. I beg that to-morrow he will show me the house from which the 
first Napoleon escaped, but require nothing else now that I have found a 
lodging — about my doing which M. Lambert was in doubt, since sometimes in 
these places the only inn happens to be full, and then your letter to any one 
in authority is of great use. M. Berlandi tells me that he was away when I 
arrived, searching, with nearly all the people of the Bocognano villages, for a 
poor half-witted youth, who has now been missing for four days. He says 
that every year deaths occur in these mountains from children or old persons 
losing their way in the thick " maquis," or from being caught, high up in the 
hills, by snow storms. Last autumn two little girls strayed from their home, 
only to be found (or rather their skeletons) when the snow melted, a month or 
two ago. 

Dinner follows, and by no means a bad one for a little roadside inn ; very 
decent soup, eggs and ham, good stewed mutton, a dish of excellent trout, 
broccio, and good wine. Might not a man live here very tolerably for ever 
so long a summer ? 

This evening a fire is welcome, for Bocognano stands at a great height 
above the sea, and the weather is damp and chilly. At 6 P.M. the mist clears 
somewhat, and as it sails away, shows, as if by a curtain being partly drawn 
up, vast depths and breadths of grand gloom. 

Later, the sky clears suddenly and completely, and most astonishing is the 
spectacle of the immense Monte d'Oro, all at once, as if by magic, unveiled 
from base to summit in all its magnificence of rock and snow ; and where a 
minute before nothing was to be seen but a pale white mist, now rises a vast 
mountain, purple in the last shades of evening. I drew till 7.30, when darkness 
stopped me. I think no mountain scene has ever so much impressed me, except 
the view of the Jungfrau from the Wengern Alp, which this of Monte d'Oro, 
from its proximity and position, somewhat resembles. Here, however, there 
are few pastures, but everywhere grand forests of chesnut. (See Plate 25.) 

May 19. — Up by earliest daylight to draw the sublime scene from my 
window, Monte d'Oro and the villages of this singular place, so beautifully 
nestled among the wide chesnut woods. The weather seems to have become 
perfectly fine, which in these high mountains is more than I had looked for. 

5 -30 A.M. I go out to obtain, if possible, a general view of the village. Fresh 
and pleasant as is the air, and charming the glistening chesnut foliage, it is 
yet a trifle too damp by the roadside below the trees, where, in order to draw, 
I am obliged to take up my position. This Bocognano scenery is quite a 
change from what I have seen in Corsica hitherto. The great extent of ches- 
nut woods, mistily or distinctly seen through the blue filmy smoke rising from 


the distant hamlets, lit up by the sun, or overshadowed by cloud ; then the 
village, not very interesting in its forms, but having a tolerable variety of tints, 
brown, ochre, and gray, or its older houses, which have rich brown-madder roofs 
and white chimneys ; and lastly, above village and woods, the vast heights of 
Monte Renoso — streaked with snow, and appearing or vanishing as driving 
clouds pass over them — form hundreds of beautiful pictures. Bocognano, to 
those who wish to represent such scenes of mountain grandeur, with few 
accessories of distance, or, to such as desire to become thoroughly acquainted 
with the characteristics of chesnut foliage, would be a first-rate place for 
summer study. 

As I sit close to the village, I have at least the advantage of seeing all who 
come out of it on this side ; but, alas, for the joyous singing of Italy ! and for 
the gay dresses and beautiful laughing faces of Italian mountain girls as they 
leave the town for their work in the country ! here all things are triste and 
mute; mopy men in black, their hands in their pockets, lead out a single 
black goat to some pasture, the rope fastened to their arm ; women in black 
dresses, and black kerchiefed, and with grave though not unpleasing faces, and 
grave manners, also lead forth one goat apiece. Slowly and lazily walk the 
men, slowly the women — mournful Corsican mountain homes and inhabitants. 
But on the other hand I am allowed to draw quite unmolested ; two or three 
boys on their way to school stop to look at my work, and make intelligent 
remarks on it, but avoid giving me the least annoyance, some of them rebuk- 
ing others if they stand ever so little in my way ; and when, on more of them 
gathering round me, I suggest that it would be better they should go to 
school, one of the children says, quietly, " E vero, sarebbe meglio, andiam 
— It is true, it would be better, let us go" — and away they all walk. I never 
was in any country where so little trouble was given me by bystanders. 

A walk through and beyond the village next occupied me ; on the whole 
an air of neatness and tranquillity pervades it. Children are numerous but 
not idle, for one and all carry books, and are on their way to school. There 
are many pigs, too, for it is a land of chesnuts, and the hams and sausages of 
the chesnut-fed are famous. As I returned, M. Berlandi joined me, and took 
me to see the house from which Napoleon I. so narrowly escaped with life in 
1780, when pursued by his enemies of the Pozzo di Borgo faction. The 
building is now the caserne of the gendarmerie, and near one of the windows 
there formerly grew a tree, by the aid of whose branches the young Napoleon 
was enabled to leave the house at night and to fly to Ucciani, a village not 
far off, where the family Poggiani protected him. My informants state that 
at the death of the first emperor several persons of Ucciani received legacies 
of 5,000 and 6,000 francs, and that their descendants are still much favoured 
by Napoleon III. 

( ! ) In Ucciani, the family of Poggiani, named in the will of Napoleon I.— Galletti. 




May 19.] 



7.15. — It is time to begin the day's journey, which is to be as far as Vivario 
at least. Of Paolo Mufraggi, landlord of the little Cafe des Amis, at Bocognano, 
it may be noted that his charges for yesterday's board and lodging and a 
substantial breakfast for to-day are extremely moderate, and that he himself 
is most civil and obliging. 

As you pass out of the woody amphitheatre which half circles Bocognano 
there are beautiful views looking back to the church and villages.^) After 
passing the last hamlet the ascent is steep, the road winding up always in face 



of the huge Monte d'Oro, divided from it by a deep hollow, narrower and 
clothed less with chesnut and more with " maquis " as you mount higher. 
The scenery of this wild pass is of a vast impressive character, but not very 
drawable, at least without longer time for study ; on the left, the heights of 
Monte d'Oro are bleak and savage ; on the right through a lateral gorge are 
seen grand glimpses of the snowy Renoso ; looking westward down the pass 
there are beautiful views of the valley of the Gravona, intricate folds of hill, 
and windings of river. And now, at 9 A.M., great beech-woods are reached — 
green, shady, delightful, silver-stemmed, their feathering foliage contrasting 

( ) Ascending the hill, the view back towards Bocognano was enchanting ; lofty snow-topped 
mountains, extensive groves, rocks, and torrents, all of the wildest kind, were the chief objects. The 
smoke of the village rising among the chesnuts was almost the only thing that associated man with the 
scene. — Benson, p. 18. 



beautifully with the pearly lilac hills of Ajaccio. And down the pass from 
the Bocca comes a long train of six of the huge timber-carts, each drawn by 
ten or twelve mules, descending at a pace that would not be without risk to a 
carriage happening to meet them abruptly at one of the many sharp turns of 
the pass before there was time to halt the animals. 

At 9.15 reach the top of the pass or Bocca (at the forty-ninth kilometre 
from Ajaccio), a ridge, from which on one side the water flows westward 
to the gulf of Ajaccio, and on the other into the Tavignano to Aleria on the 
east coast. (') At this height the air is sufficiently cold to make a cloak welcome. 
I linger to make a drawing below a ruined house or tower, and then, sending 
on Vincenzo and the trap to Vivario, twelve or thirteen kilometres ahead, 
commence the descent through the great forest of Vizzavona. 

The scenery of the whole of this walk does not, it seems to me, rival that 
of the three forests I have previously seen ; the upper part of it is all beech 
of great beauty, but the distance is much hidden by the trees, and this is the 
case also on reaching the pines, of which, at least near the road, I see no 
specimens equalling those of Bavella, Aitone, or Valdoniello. And, after having 
stopped at noon to breakfast by a streamlet, at a grassy space purpled with 
violets, the lower part of this great Vizzavona forest is extremely disappointing 
in its appearance, for it was ravaged a few years ago by a very destructive 
conflagration. The black charred trunks of the tall pines make but a 
melancholy foreground to the distance, which now opens out more widely 
towards the range of Monte Rotondo and remoter blue hills beyond a deep 
valley, above which the eastern side of Monte d'Oro is clothed with fine 
forest ; and in all the descent I find neither scope for the pencil nor great 
subject for admiration. The forest of Vizzavona, lying on the direct road 
from Bastia to Ajaccio, is more known and talked of than any other in the 
island, so that my expectations had been, perhaps, unreasonable as to its 
magnificence ; moreover, it has been the scene of many of the stories of 
bandits, of whom but four years ago some of the last were hunted from 
these wild and dark heights, where, if report speaks truly, some, harmless 
to the traveller, are still living, the precise locality of their abode known 
but to a faithful few. 

At 1 P.M. I come to the end of the burned forest, and gladly, for it only 
presents the deplorable spectacle of a harsh dead world of naked pine trunks 
and bristling brown branches. An old cantonnier — the only living being I 
have seen since leaving Bocognano, except the muleteers who accompanied 
the timber-carts — says the fire here took place in 1866, and burned for 
three days, and that all the Vizzavona forest would have been destroyed had 

( J ) There is a small guard-house, in a wild and lonely situation in the mountain of Vivario. The 
great valley of the Tavignano closes in here, and an elevated ridge forms the water-shed between it and 
the Gravonn, which flows in the opposite direction, south-west to Ajaccio. — Gregorivius, p. 342. 

May 19.] ARRIVE AT VIVARIO. 1 63 

not the population of the surrounding villages worked hard to prevent its 
spread by cutting down trees beyond its limits. 

Two carriages now appear — strange sight in these lonely woods ! One 
contains the Bishop of Ajaccio returning from the fete at Corte ; the second 
is that I came in to Bocognano ; at Vivario (says Vincenzo) Flora and C a 
are waiting for me. At 3 the house roofs of that village are seen, deep and 
far below the steep zig-zags which I am descending ; little, however, am I 
tempted to stop for drawing, so vast and so full of multitudinous detail are the 
great mountain buttresses of Monte d'Oro and Monte Rotondo, filling up all 
the picture, and defying any attempt to give an idea of their bulky magni- 
ficence. Small were the hills, Latin or Sabine, edging the Roman campagna 
— small the delicate distances of Argos or Bassse ; but all were refined and 
beautiful. To me these Corsican Alps, like their Swiss brethren, seem 
generally more awful than lovely. 

Vivario, situated at the foot of these great mountains, is a compact little 
village, and a picturesque scene might be made of it with ample time for 
studying the gigantic details around it ; to-day, however, the heights are quite 
cloud-capped on all sides, and as in*any case I must return thus far on my 
way back to Ajaccio, it is a question whether getting on to Serraggio for 
to-night is not my best policy for the present. The latter village is seen 
clearly from here, as well as much of the road to Corte, running along the 
flanks of Monte Rotondo, and ascending to the woods of Santa Maria di 

Flora, espying me from a long way off, comes to greet me at the entrance 
of Vivario.^) This village, which is distant sixty-two kilometres from Ajaccio, 
is not so prepossessing in its interior as externally. In the piazza is a fountain 
with a statue, but the rustic houses are not in very exact keeping with this 
embellishment. Domenico shows me the hotel of Vivario, standing in a queer 
little alley, but some people, of whom there are plenty lounging about, inform 
me that it is quite full ; and this, combined with increasing cloud and the 
prospect of passing the afternoon here to no purpose, finally decides me on 
going on now, and taking the chance of better fortune on my return. 

3.30 P.M. — Off to Serraggio, and perhaps even on as far as Corte ; it is 
impossible in this kind of journey to be sure as to one's halting place before- 
hand. The road runs immediately below the great Monte Rotondo, and at 
certain points passes some magnificent scenes, especially one at the bridge 
over the river Vecchio( 2 ) — it runs from the forest of Vizzavona to the 

(*) Vivario, poor, rustic, and peaceful, has 800 inhabitants. On the threshold of the church, an old 
mortuary stone, with an escutcheon but no name, has these words in large characters — " Maledictus qui 
percussit clam proximum suum, et dicat omnis populus, Amen." A mysterious anathema, which has 
been so effective, that for more than a century and a half no murder has been committed in the town.— 
Valery, i., p. 167. 

(*) Soon after we left Vivario we came to a torrent, over which is a wooden bridge called Tonte 

L 2 


Tavignano — which I must return to draw. So far from Vivario the way is 
level or down hill, but beyond the bridge the ascent commences that con- 
tinues to S. Pietro di Venaco. The scenery is more cheerful than that of the 
great passes in the centre of the island ; the hills on the right hand which 
shut in the valley of Ghisoni gradually opening out into views of the more 
distant and smiling valleys towards the Tavignano and the sea. 

Unusual liveliness, too, for Corsica, is added to the road by a good many 
cars being met with, containing people returning from the Corte fete, though 
hardly any colour brightens their dark and gloomy costume. 

By 4.20 we have rattled up the hill at a great rate, and Serraggio is reached 
— a considerable village, standing among chesnut groves under the great 
heights of Monte Rotondo, and with beautiful views looking back to Vivario, 
and eastward towards the sea. There is, says Domenico, a hotel here ; but as 
Corte is now so near I resolve to go on at once to Paoli's former capital, and 
leave whatever is to be done hereabouts till my return. Only I halt to inquire 
for the Moufflon, of which Miss C. tells me they have a very fine living speci- 
men, taken in the course of last winter, now in the village. That animal, 
however, I find, has been taken to be exhibited at Corte. 

A little beyond Serraggio is a smaller village, Lugo, at which the 
abundance of children seemed the most observable characteristic ; thence 
the road winds steeply up to Sta. Maria di Venaco, a village on the highest 
point of the road between Vivario and Corte. (*) All the scenery about here 
is doubtless beautiful ; the chesnut woods are noble, and at times a sunny 
gleam lights up the farther hills towards the coast, but heavy rain begins to 
fall, and forthwith clouds blot out the landscape, which, nevertheless, it has 
been easy to perceive is among the most interesting in the island. 

The rain ceases during the descent to the valley of the Tavignano, so that 
the approach to the old Corsican stronghold is well seen.( 2 ) There, backed 
by the lofty mountains which divide this district and its fortress city from all 
the western side of the island, stands Corte — Corte so rich in associations of the 

del Vecchio. It was in this neighbourhood that Paoli bade adieu to his followers when the French 
first conquered the island in 1 769.— j5Wjyw, p. 26. 

(*) In the midst of the ruins of the chapel of St. Pierre, at Serraggio, near Vivario, is an apple-tree, 
the fruit of which has angles pointing to those of the church, architectural delicacies which the village 
children pluck before they are ripe, from devotion, say the villagers, though possibly from greediness. 

Venaco, once illustrious as the dwelling of Bel Messer, is now in credit for producing the best cheese 
in the island. Bel Messer, one of the signori of the tenth century, was, like Henry IV., beloved by the 
people, and, like him, died assassinated. Great was the grief of all Corsica at the tidings of his death ; 
and it became a tradition that a voice was heard in the air, crying, " Bel Messer is dead ; unhappy 
Corsica, hope no more for any good ! " — Valery, i., p. 146. 

Nothing can be brighter and more cheerful than the landscape of the canton of Serraggio, 

which was the former pieve of Venaco On the green hills of Venaco nine ghosts are 

often seen wandering by night ; these are the ghosts of Bel Messere, his wife, and the seven poor 
children who were drowned in the little lake of the seven bowls. — Gres^orovhis, p. 341. 

( 2 ) In the centre of the island stands Corte, which is properly its capital, and will undoubtedly 
be one day a city of eminence, &01 It is situated part at the foot, and part at the declivity of a rock, 


history of Corsica, its capital under the rule of General Paoli, and the focus 
of all the national liberty for centuries. Even from the distance at which I 
now stand from it, it is evidently an imposingly situated and highly pic- 
turesque place, and stands — a pyramid of buildings crowned by a citadel — 
but a short way from the base of the high mountain wall, whence, from the 
heights Mounts Artica and Rotondo (') issue forth the rivers Restonica and 
Tavignano by two gorges, uniting just below the city, to flow through what is 
thenceforth called the valley of the Tavignano, but which is, in the vicinity of 
Corte, almost a little plain, with a boundary of low hills stretching towards 
the eastern sea. 

in a plain surrounded by prodigious high mountains, and at the conflux of two rivers, &c. It hath a 
great deal of rich country about it, and a wonderful natural strength, being hemmed in by almost 
impassable mountains, and narrow defiles, which may be defended with a handful of men against very 
large armies. Upon a point of the rock, prominent above the rest, and on every side perpendicular, 
stands the castle or citadel. It is at the back of the town, and is almost impregnable, there being 
only one winding passage to climb up to it, and that not capable of admitting more than two persons 
abreast, &c. — Boswell, p. 30. 

Corte, which at present counts 33,000 inhabitants, was the favourite city of Paoli, and the capital of 
his rising state. It might well, indeed, by its position, become the key of the island in time of war, by 
intercepting communications, and by being able to despatch troops to any point in forty-eight hours. 
The citadel — an old castle built in the early part of the fifteenth century by the brilliant and 
unfortunate Viceroy of Corsica, Vincitello d'Istria — is close to the barracks. On the west side of it 
is an abyss where, at the foot of perpendicular rocks, rushes the Tavignano, and it is by this terrible 
descent that Corsicans detained in the citadel have sometimes escaped from it — creeping to a lock close 
below the parapet, and then sliding down boldly to the bottom. The Gaffori family and their 

adherents, seventeen in number, escaped thus in the night by means of cords After the 

palace of Paoli, I visited the house of Gaffori, which is riddled by the balls fired by the Genoese whom 
Gaffori besieged there in 1745. His child, given up by its nurse to the besieged, had been exposed by 
them in the breach in order to stop the firing, but Gaffori, unmoved by this, ordered the cannonade to 
continue, saying, " I was a citizen before I was a father " — a heroism well rewarded, for the citadel was 
taken, and the child was not hurt. The Gaffori, originally of Corte, still possess their family house, 
and religiously preserve the Genoese bullets, &c. This house of Gaffori was inhabited in 1868 by 
Madame Letitia, and her husband Charles Buonaparte. — Valery, i., p. 132. 

Corte is truly the national city of Corsica ; a stronghold of the Saracens in the ninth century, it was 
taken from the Genoese in 1419, to fall again into their hands in 1456. De Thermes took it in 1553 ; in 
1564, during the war of Sampiero, they were expelled from it by the Corsicans, but retook it after a 
bloody and murderous siege ; in 1734 the place was carried by the French, and the national (Corsican) 
army only retook it in 1745. In 1762 the deputies from the pieves assembled there ; and in 1768 Paoli 
convoked there his last assembly. The French took it after the battle of Ponte Nuovo. At first sight 
it would seem that Corte, almost in the centre of Corsica, satisfies the double conditions of relations 
wdth the interior on one part, and on the other with France and the continent. The outer civilisation 
has very imperfectly penetrated Corte, and its manners have remained what they were when Paoli made 
it the capital of the island. It was then in truth the feudal capital of Corsica, with its girdle of 
gorges, ravines, and mountains, its fortress built on a pointed rock at the confluence of the Tavignano 
and Restonica. But its place as the first city of Corsica would require that the produce of all the 
principal valleys should be concentrated there with equal facility, which cannot be well looked for. — 
GrandcJicnnps, pp. 45, 46. 

( ) Prom the Monte Rotondo assuredly one of the finest views in Europe is to be seen, including the 
whole of Corsica, with the exception of the charming Balagna, which is hidden by the Monte Cinto ; 
the coast of France and Italy from Nice to Civita Vecchia, the Alps, the Apennines, and the islands of 
Sardinia, Elba, Capraija, and Monte Cristo. The ascent of the mountain requires two days ; you must 
sleep at a shepherd's hut, where the mules can rest till the next clay, and then at dawn you must climb 
to the summit without loss of time in order to arrive there before the morning clouds efface the horizon. 

The mountain of Campotile contains two lakes, differently interesting, and not very inaccessible ; 
the Creno, solemn, deep, moaning, mysterious, sung of in legends ; the Ino, among rocks with brilliant 


All round this interesting city the ground is cultivated mostly in vineyards 
or corn-fields, and it would be difficult to imagine a town more finely placed, 
at least for pictorial purposes, than Corte. Sending on Domenico to the 
Hotel de l'Europe, I draw till nearly 6, from a part of the descent command- 
ing good views of the town and spacious valley, and not far from the celebrated 
convent where Paoli lived, ( l ) now in process of restoration, and then go 
onward, diverging for a little while to a sort of platform or promenade on the 
banks of the Tavignano, where a grove of chesnut trees bordering the stream 
forms a wonderfully good foreground to the city and mountains, and where I 
perceive plenty of work for to-morrow. 

Corte is approached from the side of Ajaccio by two fine bridges, built 
above the two torrents, and is placed on a high rock, on the upper parts of 
which houses are perched and wedged in every possible vantage ground and 
corner, its lower space being occupied by rows of great houses, not wholly 
divested of the magnified domino or warehouse likeness, but far more 
picturesque in their combined groups than those of most Corsican towns. 
Altogether, Corte must be acknowledged to be a .grand place as to the 
general aspect of its exterior.( 2 ) (See Plate 27.) 

cascades, is a beautiful scene, and well filled with trout. The Liamone and the Tavignano come from 
the Creno, the Colo from Lake Ino. The Scala di Santa Regina, leading to Corte, is not so bad as to 
merit the formidable name of Ladder, it is a long and stony descent easy enough to accomplish with 
attention to one's footsteps. — VaJery, i., p. 124. 

[There is a long and interesting chapter describing the ascent of Monte Rotondo in Gregorovius ; 
and the detailed narrative of his visit to the shepherds is full of poetical charm. — E. L.] 

The herdsmen live dispersed in caverns or cabins, on the declivities of Monte Rotondo, up to 
the ridge of which their herds climb. The last herdsmen's hamlets are at a height of more than 
5,000 feet above the sea-level; their curious stations have each its peculiar name. "Fetch the broccio" 
said the herdsman, "that is the best thing we have, and you'll like it." I was curious about the 
broccio, for I had heard it praised even in Corte as the great dainty of the island, and as the flower of 
the herdsman's industry. Santa brought a round covered basket, which she set before me and untied ; 
in it lay the broccio, white as snow. It is a kind of sweet curdled goat's milk, which, taken with rum 
and sugar, is undoubtedly a dainty. The poor herdsmen sell a broccio-cake in the town for from one to 
tsvo francs. — Gregorovius, p. 328. 

[According to M. Arago, Monte Rotondo is 2,762 metres — about 8,976 feet — above the level of the 
bea, and that there are seven others exceeding 2,000 metres (6,500 feet) ; among them, Mount d'Oro, 
2,653 metres (8,622 feet). Forester says that at the end of October none but these two peaks 
were covered with snow, and he inclines to assign the height of 7,500 or 8,000 feet above the level of 
the Mediterranean as the line of perpetual snow in Corsica. In Chapter XVIII. is an interesting 
account of an excursion to the forest on the borders of the Niolo. — E. L.] 

( J ) On the side of the hill to the south of the city there is a convent of Franciscans. Here the 
General lived while his palace was repairing ; and here all strangers of respect are lodged. From this 
convent one has the best view of the city of Corte. 

The learned and ingenious Messieurs Hervey and Burnaby, when they were at this convent, were 
greatly struck by the romantic appearance of Corte. We could scarcely help fancying ourselves at 
Lacedemon, or some other ancient city, &.c. 

On one of the days that my ague disturbed me the least, I walked from the convent to Corte, pur- 
posely to write a letter to Mr. Samuel Johnson. — Bosiuell, p. 32. 

The convent of S. Francis, close to Corte, now in ruins, was magnificent ; General Paoli had large 
rooms there. During the war of independence the church served as a place of assembly for the state, 
and the pulpit was the tribune. — Valery, i., p. 136. 

( 2 ) There are but really few good houses in the town ; the Due de Padoue's is decidedly the best. 

May 19.] A FESTA IN CORTE. 1 67 

It was nearly dusk when I entered the city. Long ranges of many- 
windowed and very lofty houses form one side of the main road, which rises 
steeply to the centre and more level part of the town, and no lack is there 
here of bustle and life compared with the quiet of Ajaccio ; even the swarms 
of children seem still more abundant. Suddenly, at the opening of the high 
street, running at right angles to this first approach, transparencies and 
illuminations, bands of music, crowds of people, and universal movement, greet 
my astonished senses. I had thought the bitterness and noise of fetes was 
over with Sunday, but, on the contrary, this, the last of the three days, is the 
most violent and fuss-ful of the whole time allotted to rejoicing on this 
occasion, that of unveiling a statue of Marshal the Due de Padoue, one of 
the first Napoleon's generals, and a native of Corte. 

Every place was thronged, and it was with difficulty I could get through 
the crowd to the Piazza, and thence to the Hotel de l'Europe. Here all was 
bustle and confusion. There were no vacant rooms ; and as to where Domenico 
and my luggage might be found, no answer could be got ; the general festivity 
seemed to have turned the heads of the good people of Corte. Group after 
group of people to whom I applied shrugged their ignorance on the subject. 
Nor were the efforts of Giorgio to find our driver and roba more fortunate, 
and we were meditating — as at Montenegro in 1866 — on the possible chance of 
passing the night in the street, when I remembered that M. Merimee had 
procured me an introduction to Signor Corteggiani, President of the Tribunals, 
and residing in Corte. In such a difficulty, application to one of the 
gendarmerie is usually the best proceeding, and had I asked M. Lambert for 
a letter, I could have been saved all trouble, though Corte is not in his district ; 
as it was, a gendarme took me to the Judge's house, though this was a step 
but little in advance, for M. Corteggiani was giving a dinner to the Duke, the 
General, and others, and the servants would not deliver my letter until next 
day. Meanwhile, as I remained on the staircase with the gendarme and 
others, that functionary, who had evidently entered fully into the festal 
hilarities of the day, made an absurd scene by shouting, " Proclaim your 
rank ! call aloud your title ! We gendarmes are the heart and beginning of 
all justice ! we will see everything done for you ! " till a domestic, thinking it 
would be wiser to end the matter at once, rushed up-stairs with the letter, and 
shortly brought down the Judge's secretary, with directions to show me a 
lodging, and to apologise for his not being able to receive me at the moment. 

Accordingly, I was taken to a tiny house, with a very dirty entrance, but 

The Baron Mariani's is handsome, and so is that of the Gaffori family, on the Piazza, near the Mairie. 
Gaffori's, marked with shot-holes, is intimately connected with Corsican history. — Benson^ p. 30. 

I had heard much of the rudeness and of the independence of the people of Corte, of its violent 
" Vendette," of its contempt for authority, of the party-spirit of its men, even of its children. The 
number of assassinations, murders, and attempts at these crimes in Corte during the twelve years from 
1822 to 1834 had surpassed in number those of all the rest of the island. — Valery^ L, p. 126. 



containing one available decent bed-room, and a sort of public chamber, where 
they promised some supper. G. shortly joined me, with two wild-looking 
individuals bringing up the roba ; but these men, being in a festive and 
elated state, asked fabulous sums for each article, and on G. refusing to pay 
so much, a row ensued. The most outrageous of the " savage men " kicked 
a saddle-bag down-stairs, and was proceeding to further violence, when a 
compromise was come to by aid of the gendarme, and peace was finally 
restored. I had previously been told that the people of Corte had the 
reputation of being dirtier and more turbulent than any in the island, and, 
however unwilling to harbour unfavourable impressions, my first hour in this 
place tends to make me think the character is not undeserved. 

Throughout all this hullabaloo, the people of the house — Andrei, a man and 
his two daughters — took no part in it, and after the savage porters had gone, 
were civil and kindly after their fashion, and provided a tolerable supper. G. 
puts up my camp-bed in the next room to the public one ; but has a less 
chance of a night's rest than even mine, on a chair in the salon. Already 
these small apartments are more than full, and others are flocking into the 
house. Sleep, at least during the fete of the Due de Padoue's statue, is not 
to be looked for in the capital of Paoli's Corsica.^) 

( ! ) It is but justice to say that on the morrow the landlord of the Hotel de l'Europe, for whom the 
excitement and possibly the good cheer of the three days' fete necessitate some allowance, apologised 
very fully for his inattention, not to say rudeness ; and as I have heard his hotel well spoken of, I am 
willing to think that the nineteenth of May, 1868, was an exceptional day in his history. 



Reflections on the Difficulty experienced in Drawing Landscape — Call on M. Corteggiani — Visit 
to the House of Gaffori, Citadel, &c. — Views of Corte — Dinner at M. Corteggiani's - Corte 
from above the River Tavignano — Statue of Paoli — Red Deer — View of Corte from the Bas- 
tia Road — Leave Corte — White Umbrellas — Road along the Valley of the Tavignano — Distant 
view of the Fiumorbo Plains and Casabianda — Halt to Draw Aleria — Arrive at Casabianda 
— Kind Reception by M. and Mdme. Beurville — M. de la Hitolle — Pleasant Dinner and Evening — 
French Riddles — Early Rising and Drawing — Noble View of the Plains and Mountains — Leave 
Casabianda — Memories of the Roman Campagna — Undulating Plain — Deserted Tracts of Country 
— Bee Eaters — Approach to Cervione — Cultivation — Pleasant Lanes and Green Foliage- -Reach 
Cervione — Its Position — The Inn — Return to the Bastia Road — Turn off towards Vescovato — 
Walk up to the Town — Beautiful Approach — Numerous Peasants returning Home — Picturesque 
Appearance of Vescovato — M. Gravie's Lodging — His Conversation. 

May 20. — No sleep, for there was noise all night long ; this, together with 
having been more or less unwell yesterday, make it difficult for me to rise, but 
the bare prospect of passing an hour more than is absolutely necessary in this 
dwelling gives me energy to set off at 5.15 to the Restonica Bridge, near which 
I drew till 7. 

Why does it seem a law established by destiny that the best points for 
making landscape drawings are so frequently in dangerous, uncomfortable, or 
filthy spots ? If your drawing is to be made in the country, why are you 
compelled to sit in a narrow and frequented mule-track, at the edge of a 
precipice, or below a crumbling rock, simply on account of the distance of a 
foot right or left preventing your seeing your subject owing to some interven- 
ing obstacle ? If in a town, why for a similar cause does the top of a wall, 
the centre of a thronged street, or the vicinity of an " immondezzaio," become 
your inevitable seat ? And oh, painter, if you go to Corte ever beware of 
" studying " below the houses thereof, lest the sudden opening of windows 
cause you eternal regret ! These bitter reflections are prompted by the draw- 
ing I am making from the river bank, where my only possible position in 
order to see what I want is on a narrow strip of ground between the torrent 
and a wall, and as every five minutes there comes a vexatious mule along with 
a wide load of wood, I am as often obliged, for fear of a concussion, to mount 
the wall suddenly, while G. gathers up my folio and materials. But the view 
is beautifully picturesque ; the rugged simplicity of Corte architecture agrees 
well with the proud and strong position of the citadel rock, standing out from 
a mountain background of the sternest sort. 

Hardly able to bear up against warnings of fever, I next go to the 
chesnut grove beyond the junction of the two rivers, where a sort of 
esplanade has some benches at its borders. Few town pictures can be more 


interesting than that of Corte from this spot ; the large trees grow on a slope 
quite down to the clear rushing water, and form a delightfully shady walk, 
particularly grateful now that the sun's heat is daily getting more powerful. 
I cannot as yet, however, from what I have seen of Corte, understand why 
some have thought of it as a place suited for the summer abode of invalids. 
Its position must be one of great heat during the summer months, as it is 
exposed to the sun from its first rising, and notwithstanding that the chesnut 
grove where I now am is pleasantly shady, yet a long and hot walk has to be 
accomplished to reach it ; and, excepting the public allee or avenue on the 
further side of the town, there is no other shelter. In winter, from its 
situation close to great mountains immediately above it, and the two windy 
ravines behind the town, Corte must be as subject to extreme cold as to 
heat in summer^ 1 ) (See Plate 28.) 

At 9 I return to the high street, and finding that M. le President 
Corteggiani has twice called on me, lose no time in returning his visit. At 
first, his nephew, a pleasant fellow, receives me, and then the Judge, a kindly 
gentleman, very profuse of apologies, no wise needed by me, regarding his 
inability to receive me last night — how he had gone to the landlord of the 
Europe Hotel, and had made " des severes reproches," and how that person 
had acknowledged the justice of his reproof. I decline with thanks his offer 
of a room in his house, but accept, though very far from well, an invitation 
to dine with him at 6 this evening, and in the meantime M. Corteggiani 
promises to send some one at noon w r ho is to show me the principal lions 
of Corte, such as Gaffori's house, &c. So I return to my " hotel," and 
devote the next three hours to quinine, and to the endeavour to get some 
rest — the last an unattainable blessing in this noisy little den, where some 
twenty people are breakfasting on one side of my room, and on the other 
a family of screaming children wake the echoes of all the walls. 

At noon I go up the steep and narrow paved streets with a cicerone who 
is very Corsican and ultra-liberal in his views of things in general. He 
shows me the house of GafTori, the front riddled with the balls of the 
Genoese (there are still members of the Gaffori family residing in 
it), and that of General Paoli ; but as I am too unwell to go into these, 
or to mount higher towards the citadel, I return to the inn by a lower 
route, pausing only below the rock to make a drawing of that part of the 
castle from which, in 1745, the famous escape of the Gaffori prisoners 
took place — all which lionising is effected with no slight difficulty. (See 
Vignette, p. 171.) 

One more effort is to be made to complete the drawing I commenced 

( ! ) All the force of patriotism must surely have impelled the Abbe Galletti to write, "One sees 
at Corte shops full of every kind of merchandise ; luxuriously fitted up cafes, and hotels where nothing 
of the comfortable is wanting ! " — Galletti, p. 209. 




yesterday afternoon on the road leading down from Sta. Maria di Venaco ; 
thither, therefore, I go, and return to the hotel by 4.30. In Corte the little 
girls are almost all pretty, and nearly without exception fair, with pale or 
yellow hair like English children ; they grow up darker, and get a coarser 
look, though on the whole there seems a good deal of female beauty 


in Corte, albeit, perhaps, of a stern rather than a genial expression. As 
for the boys, who are legion, they are sturdy but ugly little fellows. 

At 6 p.m., much against my inclination, I go to M. Corteggiani's, making 
a strong effort to do so, rather than send an excuse, which my last night's 
misadventures might cause to be imputed to touchiness. I find M. le 
President a plain, pleasant gentleman; the only persons at the table 


besides himself and me were two nephews, one of them, M. Antonio Gatta, 
a lively and intelligent young man, who, residing at Bastia, is well ac- 
quainted with that part of the island, and who gave me much information 
about distances in Cap Corse, the Balagna, &c. This last district, as well 
as the valley of Luri, I am counselled by no means to omit visiting. He 
also gives me a list of published memoirs of Paoli, and of other books on 
Corsica, &c, &c, which I shall probably find of use. The dinner was plentiful, 
good, and well served, and I thought it amiable of President Corteggiani, who 
had been dining or dined for four days past in all the fatigues of a noisy fete, 
to have invited me. The wine from his own estate, a good " ordinaire," 
seemed to me some of the best I have tasted in Corsica. At 8.30 I took 
leave, one of the nephews accompanying me to the hotel door, and now, 
notwithstanding the incessant noise in the next room, am glad to get to 
my camp-bed, which is ready for my early return. 

May 21,4 A.M. — Early rising, were it pleasant nowhere else, would be so 
in this hotel, where noise and other indescribable objections make egress very 
desirable. At a cafe good coffee is obtained at twenty-five centimes a head, 
and the sun was only rising when I was down at the esplanade drawing the 
picturesque town above, the cool river gleaming between the dark chesnut 
foliage, and standing out on its bold rock away from any overhanging moun- 
tains. Indeed, the front, so to speak, of Corte catches the whole glare of day 
from the moment of the sun's rising till late in the afternoon, and it is only for 
about an hour after sunrise (at this season) that the shadows of the buildings 
and rock relieve so beautifully off the fine background ; soon all is shadeless 
till afternoon, when the whole is in broad shade unbroken by lights. The 
upper part of the rock is of a dark gray-brown colour, cactus-covered at its 
points and crevices, and all the upper houses are similarly of dark brown 
or gray material, the windows bordered with white. One church only I 
have seen in the town, and that not at all remarkable in its appearance. 

7.30. — I return through the town ; from the ascent to it the eastward view 
down the valley of the Tavignano has much that is graceful and pretty. 
Prettiness, however, is far from being the characteristic one should seek to 
express here, at the stern capital of Paoli, where the rugged and positive lines 
of scenery harmonise well with the history of the fierce struggles and bitter 
revenges of Corsican life. Not a part of this rock-pyramid but must have 
been fought over, and blood-covered ; no precipitous wall of either of the two 
ravines, no pinnacle of the granite heights above, but must have echoed the 
wild cries of victory and defeat from the Pisan and Genoese wars down to the 
last battle with the men of Genoa in Gaffori's time. 

Before going to the inn I stroll into the Piazza, where stands a statue of 
Pas quale Paoli ; a tame hornless deer is walking about, and some persons 




assure me that it is a small red-deer of a kind peculiar to Corsica. (*) As for 
Miss C.'s Moufflon, I again make earnest endeavours to see that remarkable 
beast, who is evidently exclusive in his habits and difficult of acquaintance — 
three days ago he again started on his travels to be exhibited at Bastia. 

G., in wandering about yesterday, when I was too unwell to go out, dis- 
covered what he says is a good view of Corte on the Bastia road, so I go 
thither, and finding it to be so, draw there till 9. The whole city is beauti- 
fully seen from this side, and has, from its northern approach, the most com- 
manding and grand character of any town, I imagine, in Corsica ; its large 
houses cluster in well-composed lines up to the barracks and citadel apex, and 
the noble outline of the double mountain background makes a magnificent 
finish to the picture. {See Plate 29.) From Bastia the entrance to Corte is 
by an avenue of trees, but this " boulevard " is so frequented that it can 
hardly be called a country walk. On one side of it, in a little Piazza, is 
the brand-new statue of Arrighi, Due de Padoue. 

At 9.30 breakfast at Pietro Giovanni Andrei's inn ; its proprietors, a father 
and two gentle and graceful daughters, are pleasant and obliging, and their 
charges very moderate ; but as their tiny house is merely a locanda of the 
commonest sort, and chiefly frequented by the gendarmerie and country 
people, it should not be a matter of complaint that it does not come up to 
the standard of comfort we northern travellers desire. ( 2 ) 

At 10 all is ready (a taking of quinine pills not excepted) for the start to 
my next halt at Casabianda — that place so eminently full of fever-danger as 
the summer advances, yet to which I am determined to risk another visit for 
the sake of getting better drawings there than I obtained on April 26. Adieu 
Corte ! a crowd of whose inhabitants gaze on my departure from windows, 
and a multitude of whose children collect round the trap, Flora and C° 
Adieu, Corte ! you are picturesque, venerable, historic, liberty - loving ; 

i 1 ) The Corsican cerf is like the red deer. Their colour is ferruginous. In size they are a little 
larger than fallow deer, with a heavier body, and stronger horns, springing upright, spreading less than 
any other variety, and slightly palmated. — Forester, p. 192. 

The deer, Cervus Corsicanus, is, I believe, altogether peculiar to the island, and is supposed by some 
to be a variety of the red deer, Cei-vus elaphos ; . . the animal is much smaller and more compact 
than the red deer ; but there are also differences in the colour of the fur and in the branching of the 
horns. — Hazvker, p. 336. 

M. Grandchamps severely censures the want of cleanliness in certain of the towns and villages of 
Corsica, from which dangerous illnesses arise. The filth of all sorts, &c. — p. 145. 

( 2 ) When one wanders now through the dead stillness of the little town, where miserable looking 
Corsicans are standing about under shady elms, as if they were trying to dream away the day and the 
world, one can scarcely conceive that hardly a hundred years ago, the most enlightened political 
wisdom had taken up its abode in such an obscure corner of the earth.— Gregorovius, p. 323. 

Calling at the cafe in the Corso, we find it as before, dirty, disorderly, and noisy. 

Where, we ask ourselves, are the gentlemen of Corte ? But what has any one above the classe s 
who toil for a livelihood to do in Corte except to lounge the long day under the melancholy 
elms in the Corso, and while away the evenings by petty gambling in its wretched cafes ? — 
Forester, p. 163. 


nevertheless, until your drainage is overhauled and remodelled, and until 
cleanliness is in a greater degree recognised as a virtue by your population, 
I should not wish to make any of your houses my home. 

Domenico says there are seventy kilometres to Casabianda, but I doubt 
if it can be so far. I propose to go from that place to Bastia in two days, if 
this can be easily done, as I think it may be, because the whole distance is on 
comparatively level road, and the ponies will have a whole day's rest at 
Bastia. Of the beautiful district Catinca I fear I shall see but little, if 
anything, for there are Cap Corse and the Balagna to visit before returning 
to Ajaccio ; perhaps I may succeed in getting to see Cervione and Vescovato. 
Meanwhile, it is a relief to have left the small and dirty rooms, the bad 
smells, and the noise of Corte. 

On the road, which for a short distance is that to Vivario, several parties 
are leaving the town in cars for their country abodes (after all, it must 
be remembered that I have seen Corte under a very exceptional state of 
things) ; among these there are hardly any one who does not carry a white 
umbrella, a sign that the heat, even now very considerable, is not thought 
lightly of by the natives.^) 

The road to the coast soon leaves that to Ajaccio, and following the 
course of the Tavignano as it winds among low hills, Corte is soon lost 
to sight ; scattered cork and ilex groves are passed ; and after a little while 
granite rocks, flowering cystus, and a line of snowy heights behind and to 
the right, are the features of the landscape. Presently the valley becomes 
deeper and narrower, and all horizon is shut out ; we rattle rapidly down 
the good broad road, running not far above the river between low hills, 
covered with wild verdure, or here and there with patches of grain. One 
might be in Devonshire, and not in the prettiest part either. 

11.30 A.M. — At the seventeenth kilometre from Corte (we get over about 
twelve kilometres the hour on the down-hill journey) the Tavignano is crossed 
by a three-arched bridge ; near it is a little church which seems to be a 
structure of Pisan times, and not to sketch it occasions a moment of regret ; 
but the day's work may be long, so we hurry on — as the poet says, " What 
time have I to be sad ? " 

Ever the road winds along the green valley, now at the edge of high cliffs, 
where the somewhat too rapid course of Domenico has now and then to 
be checked, now, at the twenty-second kilometre, passing a wayside house 
or two, a few olive trees, and scanty shreds of cultivation, dovetailed into 
the green " maquis " and white cystus. Below flows the river, deep and fast, 

( x ) The parasol is indispensable here The man always has the zucca, or round 

gourd-bottle slung round him, and often a zaino or small goatskin too ; and round his waist the 
carchera, a leathern girdle in which his cartouches are held. — Gregorovitts, p. HI. [A portion of 
dress now happily no longer used. — E. L.] 

Mav 21. 



often fringed with large trees, and 
always through a continuance of 
lonely but pretty scenery. 

Towards the thirty-fifth kilometre 
the descent becomes more gradual, 
and the valley, though still winding 
among undulations of low green hills, 
begins to open out on wider spaces ; 
the Tavignano flows on a broader 
and shallower stream between broken 
banks of red earth (for the region of 
granite is left behind) and waving 
fields of corn ; and after a halt at 
i P.M. to rest the thirsty ponies, 
behold once more the rich and beau- 
tiful plains of the east side of Corsica, 
with Casabianda on its hill. There, 
stretched out in long lines, beyond 
the last undulations of the hills as 
they sink towards the coast, is the 
wide campagna of ancient Aleria, with 
its many pictures and varied interest, 
the vast growth of " maquis " and 
brilliant bloom of cystus, the river 
and the smooth corn-fields, and the 
blue remote forms of the crags of 
Mont' Incudine — how much of all 
this recalls the descent to the Roman 
campagna from the Sabine hills, or 
to some bright plain of Sicily or 
Greece ! 

All along the way the flitting of 
gay hued bee-eaters, who make the 
telegraph wires their resting place, is 
a pretty sight enough. At 2.15 P.M. 
the road from Bonifacio to Bastia, and 
the long bridge over the Tavignano 
(at the forty-seventh kilometre from 
Corte) below the fort of Aleria is 
reached ; a few warehouse-like build- 
ings stand near it. Here, till 3, I 
stop to make a drawing of the fort 


and village, and the curve of the broad river, soon to be lost in the great 
Etang de Diane ; the work of art I have undertaken being much abridged 
and hastened by the discovery that my position, in strict accordance with 
certain rules of destiny not long since alluded to, is close to a nest of a 
species of hornet, magnificent fellows of purple and burnished gold, but 
unpleasant as near companions^ 1 ) At 3 I start again, passing below the fort 
of Aleria, which is very picturesque from this side, and thoroughly Roman- 
campagna like ; the road to Casabianda is but two or three kilometres farther, 
and here, sending on Domenico to the establishment with M. le Prefet's letter 
to M. le Directeur du Penitencier Agricole de Casabianda, I make a sacrifice 
to duty by trudging over ploughed fields in the hot sun to complete my 
unfinished drawing of April 26, adding thereto the mountain chain, which is 
now perfectly clear. ( 2 ) [See Vignette, p. 175.) 

No reception could be more kindly than that I met with an hour later from 
M. Beurville, all the more so that Madame Beurville was only recovering from 
illness, nor is it easy to describe, particularly after having so recently left the 
roughnesses of Corte, how delightful were the pleasant and clean apartments 
allotted to me ; all at once, thanks to M. Merimee, it seems that I am in Paris, 
or, according to the Suliot's phrase, " (palvercu irapaheicros — it appears to be 
paradise." The director, as well as another officer of the establishment, M. de 
Lahitolle, a Breton gentleman, to whom I have a letter from M. Lambert, 
enter at once into my plans, which they soon perceive relate rather to the far 
away outlines of the beautiful mountain ranges than to the internal arrange- 
ments or exterior cultivation of the establishment. Not that the most indiffe- 
rent could fail to be struck with the order and good administration of this large 
penal settlement — which contains nearly 1,000 convicts — and with the great 

(') This plain (of Aleria) would alone support the whole of Corsica if well cultivated, and might be 
easily irrigated by the Tavignano. — Grande liamps, p. 35. 

The greatest part of the houses in the village of Aleria, as well as of the territory adjoining, 
belongs to the heirs of the Marchese Potenziani of Rieti, who married one of the daughters of 
Christophero Saliceti, the last possessor of the family. 

Many interesting details in Galletti about Galeria, discoveries of inscriptions, tombs, rings, &c, 
Etruscan vases, coins of various dates. 

The Abbe G. speaks of the ruins of Aleria, an old wall of enormous thickness, some portions 
still two metres in height, but not of old Roman construction. A space enclosed by ruins 
of walls, and known as Sala Reale, or Royal Hall, portions of what is doubtless an amphitheatre, 
an oval, the circumference of which is 142 metres, ruins of a circus capable of holding 2,000 spectators. 
Other scattered portions of ruin, but not of early date — vestiges of a mole or some building serving as a 
defence to the entry of the port. On the Island of St. Agatha, near the mouth of the port, are ruins of 
a thick wall, where are seen pieces of iron to hold the rings to which ropes were attached for ships. In 
these walls are vases, or a kind of jars. Vast and beautiful houses, says the enthusiastic Abbe 
Galletti, have now risen at Aleria (!) — Galletti, pp. 178, 180. 

M. Grandchamps, who speaks with great hope and certainty as to the future of the eastern plains, 
does not speak so positively about the possibility of restoring the Etang lagoon of Diana to the place 
it occupied as port of the Roman colony. 

( 2 ) [From the spurs of the chain between Aleria and Cervione some magnificent views must be 
obtainable. — E. L.] 


change that in a short time has so visibly been wrought, a wide cultivation 
having replaced what only a few years back was totally a wilderness. But the 
view from the terrace below the Director's house, taking in the great central 
mountains of Corsica, from the Incudine to Monte Rotondo, and northward 
to nearly as far as the plains of ancient Mariana, is the object of greatest 
interest to the wandering landscape painter, whose only desire is that he may 
have coffee earlier than daylight, in order to be at work before the sun rises, 
lest vapours obscure the clear mountain outline. Then, as well as now, it is 
necessary, as my new acquaintance do not fail to warn me, to put on an extra 
coat, as the air of Aleria is, even at this season, dangerous at early morning 
and towards sunset, the chill from the great marshes on the coast contrasting 
forcibly with the heat of the day. 

At dinner-time, 6 o'clock, the table of my host and hostess was without 
ceremony, but there was an exceedingly hearty welcome, and very good cheer; 
their little girl, an intelligent and darling child, was one of the party, 'and 
though not six years old, for good behaviour might have been twenty. On 
my arrival, the great size of my spectacles had attracted the observant little 
lady, who had whispered to her mother, " Comme il est charmant ce monsieur 
avec ses beaux yeux de verre ! — what a delightful gentleman with beautiful 
glass eyes!" — an admiration which was at least more gracious than that of a 
little girl at Chamouni some years back, who, after a long stare at me, ex- 
claimed, " Ah, que vos grandes lunettes vous donnent tout a fait Fair d'un gros 
hibou ! — how exactly your great spectacles make you look like a big owl ! " 

Later, M. de Lahitolle, who has been for many years in Algeria, joined us, 
and there was much discourse about Corsica, and especially about this part of 
it, now in so transitional a state, owing to the treatment of it by the Emperor 
Napoleon III.'s government. Only a certain portion of the plain of Aleria 
belongs to the state ; the family Franceschetti of Vescovato and others possess 
much of the adjacent land, and that is all allowed to remain in its desert 
condition, while drainage and other agricultural labour are doing their work 
of civilisation at Casabianda. And it appears that by a great many Corsicans 
these improvements are not looked upon with very loving eyes, though there 
are, of course, many enlightened men among them who approve of, and per- 
haps have suggested the measures of utility put in practice by the emperor's 
government. As for the convicts, they naturally prefer labour in the open air, 
with comparative freedom, to a life within prison walls in France. In June 
nearly the whole establishment migrates to a Sanatorium, or mountain settle- 
ment, near Ghisoni, in the pine forest of Marmano, which I hope to visit on 
my return to Ajaccio early next month. 

The evening passes in making drawings for little Terese, not unenlivened 
by snatches of merriment ; for although I labour under the disadvantage of 
speaking French very ill, I nevertheless always find French acquaintance 



ready to help all deficiencies, and with the pleasant liveliness of their nature, 
to seize on any opportunity of amusement. My riddle of " Quand est ce," &c. 
(see page 143), delights my cheerful hosts; and, apropos to the appearance of 
potatoes at dinner, when the question is asked, " On en mange beaucoup en 
Angleterre, n'est ce pas, monsieur ? " they are charmed by my telling them the 
Irishman's saying, " Only two things in this world are too serious to be jested 
on — to wit, potatoes and matrimony." The beauty of the Hon. Mrs. A. B. (their 
party was here not long since), was again, as at Porto, a theme of admiration. 
At 9, M. and Madame Beurville, knowing my early hour of rising, allowed 
me to wish them good-night. In the sitting-room and bed-room up-stairs I 
seem to be transported to some English country-house, and neither the 
memories of ancient Aleria nor of modern Casabianda interfere with 
immediate sleep. 

May 22. — Before 4 A.M. coffee had been brought me by one of the convict- 
servants of the Penitencier, and as it is not easy to move about in this neces- 
sarily much be-sentinelled and be-locked-up place, MM. Beurville and de 
Lahitolle were soon at hand to facilitate matters, and I was speedily down on 
the terrace, drawing the long chain of Corsican Alps, clear as amethyst and 
tipped with silver as the sun rose. 

The Romans were right in making a city at Aleria, in a site so majestic 
in itself, so well placed for communication with the outer world, and situated 
in the widest and most fertile territory in the whole east coast of the island, 
looking, on one side, to the lofty range of snowy summits, on the other to 
the sea, and to the river Tavignano winding through the broad plain, this 
part of which is so happily awakening from its long sleep of desolation. I 
am well rewarded for my trouble in coming here a second time, in thus seeing 
one of the finest parts of Corsica in cloudless weather, and in being able to 
procure an accurate drawing of its distant landscape. And having completed 
this, there remains but one more duty here — to visit some parts of the estab- 
lishment which M. Beurville wishes to show me, and which, to my eye, 
inexperienced in such matters, appear in all the perfection of working order; 
the spacious kitchen, the storehouse for food, the warehouses for clothing, &c. 
— nearly everything is made by the convicts on the spot, from the produce of 
the territory — and all seems arranged and overlooked with the greatest care. 
A detailed account of the condition and results of this establishment for 
1,000 condamnes would be interesting. 

7 A.M. — I take leave of my amiable hosts, and of M. Lahitolle, and set 
off with Flora and C°" along the road to Bastia, hoping to divide the journey 
thither by halting for the night at Vescovato. 

Before passing the bridge over the Tavignano I stop to make a drawing 
of the fort of Aleria, with a distance of green plain and far mountain. If 

May 22. ] 



anything were wanting to complete the exact 
resemblance of this part of Corsica to the 
well-beloved Campagna of Rome, it is sup- 
plied just here by portions of the polygonally 
paved ancient road, which formerly led from 
Mariana to Aleria. So vividly Romanesque 
is the scene, and so exactly reproduced are 
such spots as Gabii, or similar places, that it 
is hard to believe the " days that are no 
more" are not returned, particularly when a 
flock of goats passes leisurely and sneezingly, 
after their manner, across the long-enduring 
memorials of Roman dominion, wandering 
about the dark gray fragments of pavement 
as they might upon the old Via Appia — but 
here the parallel halts. There is no goatherd 
with pointed hat and peacock's feather and 
Malvolio-like cross-gartered gaiters ; no little 
girl with scarlet boddice, spindle and wool in 
hand, and with her bright black eyes shaded 
by the white squared tovaglia, as — if you never 
saw the reality — you may see in the pictures of 
Penry Williams. Here, the model for the " Cor- 
sican Goatherd'' might be safely selected from 
Holborn or Whitechapel indiscriminately. 

Onward at 8. There are sixty-seven kilo- 
metres to Bastia, on the direct road from 
Aleria, and one hundred from Bonifacio, so 
say the kilometrical milestones. Although 
this eastern side of Corsica is called and 
seems "a plain," it is by no means flat, any 
more than is the Roman Campagna, which 
equally appears so from any height. A good 
but straight road runs along it, mostly over 
undulating ground, and rarely level. Sandy 
or cretaceous banks border the highway ; and 
in so clear and charming a morning as this 
there is enough of interest to prevent the 
drive being a weary one, which in dull weather 
it would assuredly prove. In the depressions 
or shallow dells the variety of flowers and the 
richness of the "maquis" are constant sources 

.' !l !': Ml 




I Ml|! 

f w 


I < 


M 2 


of pleasure ; from the top of each rise in the road you may look back at the 
snowy heights to the south, gradually fading away, or forward to the green 
hills which approach the coast at Cervione ; to the right is the sea, with Monte 
Cristo and Elba on the horizon, and all around stretches the apparent plain 
over which you are passing. Rarely a human being is met ; once or twice 
only I remarked a hut or two, and now and then great herds of black goats 
filled up the road, migrating with the goatherds and their families to higher 
regions, above the reach of malaria. Everywhere there are characteristic and 
picturesque bits of Campagna-like landscape ; everywhere the cheerful bee- 
eater abounds, sitting by pairs on the telegraph wires, and sometimes not 
stirring as the carriage drives by. 

9 A.M. — Since leaving Aleria — thirteen kilometres — scarcely any cultiva- 
tion has been passed ; but now, as the hill-range, at the end or corner of which 
Cervione stands, is approached, the scenery begins to change, and has a less 
deserted look ; there are a few roadside houses, with plots of grain more or 
less extended, and scattered patches of alder trees or of cork wood vary the 
" maquis " that clothes the flat ground to the sea-side. The snow-topped 
hills to the south recede, and are seen no more, while those ahead are of a 
rich velvety blue green, covered with foliage from foot to summit, one of the 
lower heights being crowned with a conspicuous lighthouse — the Faro 
d'Alistro. Beyond this, cultivation and signs of life become more frequent ; 
and at 10 we stop for a rest, for the day is particularly hot, and Domenico 
never fails when there is water to avail himself of it for the ponies. Here 
there is a fresh pool and a stream, shaded by alders and a single willow — 
" one willow over the river hung" — add also, in the interest of zoology, a very 
large snake, which, as I wander about the thick vegetation, glides over my 
feet towards the water. When first I came to Corsica I was told, " There are 
no snakes here;" but having pointed out four to Domenico, he now says, 
" There are only harmless snakes;" which may be true or not. 

Off again at 10.30, and in five minutes leave the main Bastia road for a 
" route forestiere " on the right, leading up to Cervione, where very willingly 
would I pass the night, could I by so doing leave time enough to see Bastia 
and Cap Corse, besides the Balagna, before my return to Ajaccio ; well I 
know that from Cervione through the Casinca district exists some of Corsica's 
best scenery and points of greatest interest ; and it is a matter of vexation 
that so much of this beautiful island must be glanced at thus slightly — so 
much left quite unseen^ 1 ) 

(*) [I regret extremely not having been able to see these districts of the chesnut country, called the 
Casinca, or Castagniccia, since they are described as among the most beautiful and interesting of the 
island by all who have visited them. Valery in 1834, Gregorovius in 1852 (some of his most delightful 
chapters — see page 216 — relate to his walks among the Casinca villages), and, more recently, Forester 
and Dr. Bennet speak with enthusiasm of the scenery, and praise the inhabitants of some of the villages 
for their industry, though, in general, the population of this part of Corsica seem to have little taste for 

May 22.] ; ASCENT TO CERVIONE. l8l 

A very pleasant lane is the pretty steep ascent from the coast road to 
Cervione, shaded by chesnut and ilex, bordered with*fern, and ever and anon 
with peeps into dells full of vineyard and walnut and cherry trees ; as you 
mount higher the views are increasingly beautiful, overlooking all the wide 
plain of Aleria southward, and with Elba and the bright sea on the east. 
Extreme richness of foliage is the characteristic of the nearer part of the 
prospect down to the shore, and I am frequently reminded of the views from 
Massa Carrara and Pietra Santa, with the plain of Via Reggio below. 
Sending on Flora and C ', I stop to draw for a time, and then proceed to 
Cervione, which stands at about seven kilometres distant from the Bastia road 
on that leading to the west side of the island, or rather to the central point of 
Ponte della Leccia. (') 

Cervione is a good sized town (it was for a short time a Sous-prefecture), 
and has an imposing appearance from its high position, its lofty church tower, 
and massive many-windowed houses, like those of Sartene, all of which added 
to some great rocks immediately above it, make a picturesque scene in 
combination with the rich foliage — what cherry, chesnut, and walnut trees ! — 
on every side, and with the grand view of the plain and sea afar. Its street, 
too, possesses a certain air of activity and life, and on the Piazza fronting the 
south is the very tolerably clean little house by way of a " hotel," containing 
a billiard-room and cafe below stairs, and a large and not ill-kept apartment 
above, arrived at by one of the ladders that do duty for staircases in these parts. 

labour, and live chiefly on chesnuts ; throughout the district it is almost the universal diet, and in the 
canton of Alesani as many as twenty-two different kinds of dishes are said to be made from it ( Valtry, 
p. 308). The canton of Piedicroce of Orezza is spoken of as that where a great variety of small wares 
are made, and the Abbe Galletti says it is that in which the population work more than those of any 
other canton in Corsica, a character also given to it so far back as the days of Filippini. Much detail 
relating to this part of the island, including notices of some of their oldest churches, S. Michele of 
Morato among others, is to be found in Galletti, and there are good descriptions of the beauty of the 
landscape near Bevinco and Olmeta in Forester's book. The mineral waters of Orezza are celebrated 
(see Bennet, p. 264). The history of Maria Gentili — the modern Antigone (see Gregorovius, Benson, 
&c.) — of Oletta, and of Viterbi of Penta, are tales of Corsican life illustrative of this part of the island. 
— E. L.] 

(*) Cervione, an industrious and progressing village, and counting more than 1,400 inhabitants, is 
one of the two suppressed prefectures. — Valery, i., p. 282. 

I dined with the sub-prefet of Bastia ; tasted a great variety of wines. I had not conceived that 
Corsica produced any so excellent ; some were like port, strong, rough, and full bodied ; some rich and 
sweet, so much resembling Frontignac, that they are frequently sold as such ; others like Chablis ; and 
another sort similar to the best Herefordshire perry. — Benson, p. 56. 

All the villages of the canton of Cervione make wine, which is their greatest resource, and much 

esteemed in Corsica The territories of Cervione and Corte produce a wine which is not 

much inferior to Bordeaux. The wines of the cantons of Sari d'Urcino, Tallano, and Sartene, and the 

muscat wine of Cape Corse, may be compared with the best wines of the Continent 

The Corsicans make plenty of admirable wines, for their grapes are excellent. They make in Capo 
Corso two very good white wines ; one of them has a great resemblance to Malaga. The other of these 
white wines is something like Frontignac. At Furiani they make a white wine very like Syracuse, not 
quite so luscious, and, upon the whole, preferable to it. In some villages they make a rich sweet wine, 
much resembling Tokay. At Vescovato and at Campoloro they make wine very like Burgundy ; and 
over the whole island there are wines of different sorts. — Galletti, pp. 40, 182, 186, 187. 


For all this, unless it could be made head-quarters for several days' study, 
Cervione does not in itself present enough of interest to induce me to shorten 
the time allotted to places so important as Bastia and the Balagna, which I 
must needs visit, so I decide on going for the night, if it is possible to do so 
easily, to Vescovato, a place I much wish to see, owing to its many associa- 
tions, as well as for its reputed beauty. 

Quoth Domenico, who having unexpectedly fallen in with some Ajaccio 
acquaintance, is moved to demur to farther progress to-day — "Vescovato is 
much too far." Nevertheless, on hearing some gendarmes certify the way as 
seven kilometres to the high Bastia road, twenty along it, and five up to 
Vescovato, he acquiesces readily, and the trap is ordered to be ready at 3 P.M. 
The gendarmes say there is no regular hotel at Vescovato, but they name one 
M. Gravie, an old " Continental," and formerly in the gendarmerie, as having 
a decent lodging-house. 

Meanwhile, the people of the little inn here, full of obliging civility — now 
the well-known type of Corsican manner — produce as good a breakfast as 
they can on so short a notice, for, as they truly say, it is impossible to kill 
meat and get fish in a spirit of prophecy for persons whom they have no 
reason to expect. The Cervione district has a high reputation for its wine, 
but there was none particularly good at this locanda. As to female costume 
there is this change for the worse, that the women here only wear — instead of 
the two handkerchiefs so gracefully worn all over the west side of the island — 
a single one, and that simply tied round the head and knotted behind. 

Once more I have to record that the small country inns of Corsica, are 
cleaner and better than those of the towns, generally speaking. Meanwhile, 
I cannot bring myself to make any drawing of Cervione, though I know I 
ought to do so from the farthest side of the deep hollow over against 
the town, where, combined with the chesnut-woods, the sea, and Elba, 
a picture might be made — but then, the houses are so commonplace ! — and 
it is so far to go down there and up again ! — and so hot ! — and so late ! — 
and thus I do nothing at all but wander a little way on the road leading to 
Orezza, a land of chesnut-woods, not alas! by me to be explored^ 1 ) 

Starting at 3,10 P.M., the Bastia road, very straight and unpleasant to look 
at, is reached at 3.40 ; and we drive on until at about the twenty-sixth kilome- 

(!) "Truly," says Gregorovius, "the traveller is sometimes weary of travelling, and passes many 
an object worthy of consideration with his eyes shut. I saw Cervione (Theodore's royal residence) on 
the hill above me, and gave it up for the sake of the ruins of Mariana, — p. 484. 

[There is a chapter (p. 216) in Gregorovius very characteristic of Corsican village life in these 
districts, and full of interesting traits ; the hospitality of a poor and simple family, combined with 
the ambition which is so frequent in the island, where " the example of many allures people away from 
their villages ; in which one may often find in the dingiest cabin, the family portrait of senators, generals, 
and prefects." There is a description, too, of the view from Oreto, which has caused me to regret 
much, as in other instances, my not having met with Gregorovius's book before I left the island. 

E, L,l 


tre from Bastia it is time to enquire for a road said to turn off on the left hand 
to Vescovato ; but as there are many such lanes, the directions are not very 
satisfactory; and Domenico is in a land new to him. From the junction of 
the Cervione road, the landscape has been full of cheerfulness — everywhere 
with much cultivation, and very little of the wild Corsican vegetation, except 
arbutus hedges, white and red cystus. On the left is a line of mountains, 
of no great height, but of good form, with a nearer and lower range of hills 
entirely covered with wood — here and there a house or two is passed, with 
corn-fields and great walnut trees. At 5.30, a town not far from the road 
stands on a gentle elevation crowded with foliage, and with a beautiful 
picturesque campanile ; this place I suppose at first to be Vescovato, but it is 
(I believe) Venzolasca (*) ; some people — there are in this district plenty on 
the road — say there is a way from it to Vescovato, but difficult for carriages. 

6 P.M. — At the twenty-third kilometre from Bastia the real lane is reached, 
so I send on Domenico to secure what rooms M. Gravie may have, and prefer, 
after the long and hot drive, walking up slowly to the town of Filippini and 
Buttafuoco, the refuge that should have been of J. J. Rousseau, and that was 
so to Joachim Murat King of Naples. 

Few prettier walks could be taken anywhere — at first through open 
country, always approaching the hills, which are throughout completely 
wooded and exceedingly beautiful, the sinking sun now edging their graceful 
outlines with long streams of gold, green, and yellow, like the plumage of a 
peacock or a trogon. Then, as the narrow valley of Vescovato is entered, the 
way is more and more closed in by thick olive-trees growing above rocky 
banks, and hedges where a profusion of blossoming honeysuckles scent the 
evening air deliciously ; no town, however, is to be seen ; and this leafy approach, 
reminding me of the lanes near Viro in Corfu, is quite unlike any I have yet 
seen in Corsica. And not less novel are the accompaniments of the ascent ; 
quite a crowd is movifig up to Vescovato from the plains and cultivated 
territory nearer the sea, with a stir and show of population altogether dif- 
ferent from the lonely and thinly peopled western side of the island. Long 
strings of carts laden with hay ; horses and asses, with groups of peasants 
carrying baskets, instruments of labour, &c. — one seems to have come to 

(*) The ancient convent of Franciscans at Venzolasca has a beautiful court with eighteen columns. — ■ 
Valery, i. , p. 305. 

From the plateau on which the church of Venzolasca stands there is a ravishing distant view over 
ths sea, and on the other side a view of the indescribably beautiful mountain basin of the Castagniccia. 
Few regions of Corsica and its neighbourhood gave me so much delight as these mountains in their 
connection with the sea. The Castagniccia is an imposing circle, enclosed by mountains of a beau- 
tiful fresh green, and the finest forms ; they are all covered with chesnut trees to near the summit, 
and have at their feet olive groves, whose^ silvery gray contrasts picturesquely with the deep green- of 
the chesnut foliage. From the midst of the foliage solitary hamlets look forth, such as Sorba, Penta, 
Castellare, and Oreto, perched high among the clouds, dark, and with slender black church spires. — 
Gregorovius, p. 214. 


a new world — and scarcely one of all these people — I counted some hun- 
dreds — passed without touching their hats and saying, as did also the women, 
" Bonsoir." 

All at once the town of Vescovato ( l ) is visible, than which I never saw any 
more curiously befoliaged and hidden place ; nor is it till within half an hour 
of reaching it that it is to be seen at all, so high and so thick are the olive- 
trees, and above them the chesnut, over the winding road that leads up to it. 
First you see two or three temple-like tombs, placed in striking and beautiful 
spots, Corsica fashion, and then suddenly the whole town is perceived, high 
up among the woods in which it is embedded, and looking down on a clear 
stream brawling onward over rocks to a little bridge, and dark haunts of 
shady leafiness. (See Plate 30,) 

Nor is Vescovato a featureless array of ugly and commonplace buildings 
of the domino-warehouse type, but a most picturesque place both in form 
and colour, so much resembling such towns as Corchiano, or similar places 
in Central Italy, that one seems to have been transported thither, there is 
even a sort of palace, as a " roof or crown of things" — though of course not 
such as at Genazzano or Valmontone— at the highest part of the town. A 

(*) I at length set out for Bastia, and went the first night to Rostino. Next day I reached Vescovato, 
where I was received by Signor Buttafuoco. — Boswell. 

Vescovato, a town of 1,000 inhabitants, is the capital of the Casinca or Castagniccia, so called from 
its chesnut woods. These lovely and verdant forests might give open a field of industry to the Corsican, 
for the chesnut is one of the best woods, and even Filippini records, that in his time they made and 
exported the most beautiful tables in the world. In our time, however, this tree is rather a cause of 
poverty than profit. Six chesnut trees and as many goats suffice for the subsistence and independence 
of the Corsican, who does not feel the want of any other kind of life, and who saunters about all day 
instead of working or cultivating the land. 

It was at Vescovato that an asylum was offered, in 1764, by Count Matthew Buttafuoco to Jean 
Jacques Rousseau, who had expressed a strong wish to retire thither, in order to escape from his Swiss 

persecutors The house of Filippini, now occupied by peasants, has been preserved out of 

respect for his memory ; it is now only three storeys instead of foar in height, but solidly built, and a 
curious model of a Corsican dwelling of the sixteenth century, for although the historian was well off, 
and could receive several friends in his house, it would now appear but an inconvenient abode. 
The abode of the historian Ceccaldi, large and restored, still exists, and in our days this house of a 
historian has itself become a part of history, for it served as an asylum to Murat when he came, in 1815, 
to Corsica, to demand hospitality of General Franceschetti, formerly a colonel in his army. The 
General occupied the house still in 1834, and I paid a visit there to his wife, who was Catarina Ceccaldi. 
Murat, that cavalier always so well mounted and equipped, that paladin of the white plumes, which he 
never ceased to wear in front of the enemy, made his entrance into Vescovato on a mule, a black silk 
cap only on his head, a common cloak and soldier's gaiters ; his thick shoes are still preserved in this 
house. General Franceschetti died in 1836, ruined in consequence of Murat's residence with him, and 
by his having accompanied the ex-king in his expedition to Pizzo.— Valery, i., p. 311. 

I expected to find, such a place as I had seen plenty of on these mountains. So I was astonished 
when I saw Vescovato before me, surrounded by green hills, concealed among the chesnut-groves, 
oranges, vines, and fruit-trees of every kind, watered by a mountain stream, and built in original 
Corsican style, yet not without some elegant architecture. . . . . The place was founded by a 
bishop, and was in later times the residence of the bishops of the old town of Mariana, which lay in the 
plain below The archdeacon (Filippini) had the custom of writing his history in his vine- 
yard at Vescovato, which they still show. When he had ridden up from Mariana, he tied his horse to 
a pine-tree, and sat down to 'meditate or to write, protected by the high wall of his garden — for he was 

May 22.] 


multitude of unequal windows, and all sorts of angular oddities of architecture, 
are crowded together, to the delight of the artistic eye, the brown, gray, and 
yellow tints making each of the houses a picture ; and on the whole, no place 
in all these Corsican journeys has so delighted me at first sight as Vescovato, 
which its historical associations alone would make worth a visit. 

A smart ascent leads up to the town, and all along the way there are 
beautiful combinations of foliage and building. At the top, in a little piazza, 
surrounded by children, stand the trap and ponies, the luggage unpacked, and 
Flora looking as if all was not right, while Domenico comes forward to say 
that there is no possible lodging to be found. The Maire, to whom I have 
a letter, is ill, and I send Giorgio to find the house of M. Gravie, when 
two gendarmes, who are always a civil set, come and offer their assistance ; 
at the same time G. returns, having discovered the house which Domenico 
could not find, from being unable to leave the ponies. During G.'s search I 
was surrounded by seventy or eighty boys, who stared at me diligently, and 
in silence ; and I was struck by the quiet manner in which all these children 
dispersed on my saying to them, " Have you never before seen a stranger ? 
and do you think it is right to look at him as if he were a wild beast and not 

never secure against the bullets of his enemies all his life through — and so he wrote the history of the 
Corsicans, under truly dramatic and exciting influences. — Gregorovius, p. 192. 

The territory of the canton of Vescovato is the most fertile in all the island ; that part of it — the 
plain watered by the Golo — is well cultivated, and the part near the sea, called Prato, is prodigiously 
fertile. Vescovato is the birthplace of the patriot General Andrea Ceccaldi, the three historians, Monteg- 
giani, Ceccaldi, and Filippini, of General Count de Buttafuoco, Luca de Casabianca, captain of the 
vessel "l'Orient," who perished at Aboukir, together with his son Giocante, twelve years of age, 
and of many other distinguished members of the Casabianca family, &c. The long residence of 
the bishops of Mariana has changed the name of Belfiorita into Vescovato. — Galletti, pp. 184, 185. 

"I went," says G. "to the house of Count Matteo Buttafuoco, which was to have been the 
abode of J. J. Rousseau. It is a sightly, chateau-like building, the grandest in Vescovato. Paoli also 
invited Rousseau to the island in the year 1764, so that he might withdraw from the persecution of his 
enemies in Switzerland." 

"I am growing old and failing," says J. J. R., in a letter declining this invitation, "my strength 
is leaving me ; the wish excites me, and the hope vanishes. However it be, accept yourself a present 
to the Paoli, my sincerest and tenderest thanks for the refuge he has deigned to offer me." 

Circumstances, however, diverted Rousseau from his intention of going to Corsica, and a pity it 
was. He might there have put his theories to the test, for the island appears like the realised Utopia 
of his ideas on the normal condition of society eulogised by him, especially in the treatise "Whether 
the arts and sciences have been salutary to mankind." In Corsica he would have found to the full 
what he wished, natural men in woollen blouses, living on goats' milk and a few chesnuts ; neither 
science nor art ; equality, valour, hospitality, and blood-revenge at every step. I think the warlike 
Corsicans would have heartily laughed to see Rousseau walking about under the chesnut trees with his 
cat on his arm, or twining his basket-work, &c. 

There is a third very memorable house at Vescovato, that of the family of Ceccaldi 

It is now the house of General Franceschetti, or rather of his wife, Catarina Ceccaldi ; and it was here 
that the ill-fated king, Joachim Murat, found a hospitable reception when he landed in Corsica on his 
flight from Provence ; and here he formed the plan of reconquering his beautiful kingdom of Naples by 
a knightly coup de main. — Gregorovius, pp. 199, 200. 

Gregorovius gives many details of the last days of Murat's life, taken from the Memoirs written by 
Franceschetti — how Murat, after he had escaped, fled to Corsica, and landed near Bastia, August 25, 
1815, and hearing that General Franceschetti, who had served in his body-guard, was at Vescovato, 


a man like your own people ? " " Dite vero, e vero — true, true," said many 
of the little fellows, as they walked away, without a single instance of rude 
words or a grimace from any one of them ; and this behaviour from a large 
number of common children in a remote mountain village impressed me — who 
remember various odious and howling juvenile crowds in other countries — as 
not a little remarkable. 

Crooked narrow flights of super-odorous and slippery stairs — dark, too, 
for daylight is waning — cut in the rock, lead up to the queer little house of 
M. Gravie. As usual, the interior of the tiny rooms is far better than was to 
have been expected from the very rude approach, and the old landlord and 
two daughters are full of civilities and apologies. But as I have been very far 
from well all day, G. makes up my camp-bed at once, and I get rest till 
supper is announced, at which I only "assist," for fear my not doing so may 
be construed as a slight to what these good people, in their anxiety to give 
satisfaction, have prepared — to wit, pease-soup, an omelette, stewed lamb, 
and a roast fowl, killed on my arrival, all good and well dressed. The supper 
is served by the two daughters, both of them agreeable in face and manner, 
and I beg the master of the house, a well-bred old French gendarme, to sit 
down in the room — which he will not do without a positive invitation more 

went thither to the house of the Maire Colonna Ceccaldi ; how he presented himself to the general, 
wrapped in a hooded cloak, with his head buried under a black silk cap, with the thick beard, and the 
trousers, gaiters, and shoes, of a common soldier, his face emaciated with misery. In spite of all per- 
suasion, it seems that he persisted madly in his scheme of returning to Naples, lingering on in Corsica 
until his situation became daily more full of peril. On September 17 he went to Ajaccio, to 
embark there, his journey being a sort of triumphant march, from many of his admirers joining him, 
and Ajaccio, on the 23rd, declared in his favour. While in the city, offers were made him of complete 
security, guaranteed by Austrian and English passports, and at one time he accepted them, but finally, 
decided to proceed on his enterprise. The recital of his last days, and of his death, is full of affecting 
detail, as well as that of his faithful follower Franceschetti, of his sufferings, and of the ruin his fidelity 
entailed on himself and family. 

Franceschetti died in the year 1836. His wife, Catarina Ceccaldi still lives (1852) at a great age in 

the house where she gave a hospitable reception to King Joachim She spoke of the 

time when Murat lived here. " Franceschetti," said she, " represented the affair to him in the plainest 
colours ; he did not shrink from telling him he was bent upon impossibilities ; but then Murat would 
exclaim with bitterness, 'You too will abandon me? Ah! my Corsicans will leave me.'" — Gr,gvro- 
vias, p. 212, &c. 

The last representation of the warlike Corsican dance in armour, now disused, called the 
"Moresca," was in 1817, but Filippini mentions Vescovato as the theatre of it, and it was frequently 
performed there. The old plays of Passion Week were kept up also in Corsica till a very late period, 
and in 1808 an entertainment of the kind was given at Orezza, according to Robiquet, in the presence 
of 10,000 people. There were tents to represent the houses of Pilate, Herod, and Caiphas ; angels 
and devils rose up from a trap-door ; Pilate's wife was acted by a young man, twenty-three years old, 
with a raven black beard. The " Captain of the Guard " wore the French national-guard uniform, with 
a colonel's gold and silver epaulettes ; the second commander wore an infantry uniform ; and both had 
the cross of the legion of honour on the breast. Judas was represented by a priest, the cure of 
Carcheto. When the play began, the spectators, from some unknown cause, got into a fray, and began 
to bombard one another with pieces of rock that they tore up from the natural amphitheatre. 
Hereupon Jesus, who had just entered the stage, would not play any more, and retired in a tiff from this 
earthly vale of woe ; but two gendarmes took him under the arms, and forcibly brought him back to the 
stage, so that he had to play on. — Gregorovius, p. 204. 

May 22.] VESCOVATO. 1 87 

than once given — in order that I may have some talk with him, as I shall be 
off so early to-morrow. M. Gravie tells me he has been in Corsica forty years, 
and in this place twenty, having married a Corsican wife ; I am the only 
Englishman he has ever seen at Vescovato, with the exception that once 
the English Vice-consul at Bastia slept here. The life of a gendarme in this 
island forty years ago was, he says, indeed, one of danger, when banditism 
and vendetta were flourishing institutions, and if one could but have staid 
here some days, unlimited stores of romance might have been taken down 
from this old ex-official's recital. 

Seeing how much pains these good folk took to please me, I was vexed 
that I could not eat, and therefore sat the longer to talk with this pleasant 
old man, in whose conversation there was something sad as well as interesting, 
particularly when he spoke of France. I should much like to linger here 
some days, but it cannot be done ; I must see Corsica hastily or not at 
all. Meanwhile I only just hope to escape fever while I am in the island, not 
at all on account of the prevalence of malaria, but because fatigue always 
awakes the old slumberings of an illness to which I have for years been liable. 

It is past 9.30 before I get to the camp-bed. 

Speaking of the Casabianca family of Vescovato, and of the spirit of family or bond of relationship 
so general in Corsica, M. Valery instances the three Sampieri, the three Paoli, two Abbatucci, two 
Cervoni, three Casabianca, two Sebastiani — as proofs of his statement. — Valery, i., p. 213. 



Leave Vescovato — M. Gravie's Sadness — Return to the Bastia Road -Valley and Bridge of the Golo — 
Etang de Biguglia — City of Mariana — Great Cultivation, and Increase of Population — Diligences — 
Cemetery — Arrive at Bastia — Lively Appearance of Bastia — Hotel de France — Description of the 
Town and Port — Gourds and Chains — Plans for the rest of Corsican Tours — A Day in the Vicinity 
of Bastia — Difficulty of Drawing in a High Road — Leave Bastia for Cap Corse — Sea-shore Road 
— Distant View of Elba — Capo Sagro - Sisco — Valley of Luri — Village of Piazza di Luri — Madame 
Cervoni's tidy and pleasant House — Luri is to be the farthest point I visit in the North of Corsica 
— White Wine of Luri — Silkworms —Industry of Cap Corse —Visit to Seneca's Tower — Ascent — 
Great Beauty of the Valley — Road to Pino — Tablet in the Rock — Capuchin Convent— View from 
it — M. Tomei — Leave Piazza di Luri and return to Bastia. 

May 23. — Quinine and a good night's rest in a quiet house are great things ; 
by mistake I have risen at 3.30, an hour earlier than was necessary, when — 

" Mom broadened on the borders of the dark." 

Would that I could have got some notes and ideas of that chesnut scenery 
along the last few kilometres along the Bastia road ! especially of the town I 
believe to have been Venzolasca, about which the beautiful effects of light and 
shade were delightful ; but owing to hurry, and that the sun was low and 
directly opposite the eye, drawing was not possible. 

Vescovato, closely shut in between densely-wooded heights, with few 
distant glimpses of the shining eastern sea, might, it seems to me, have suited 
Jean Jacques, had he accepted the Buttafuoco invitation, from its peaceful 
and remote position. Murat in the Franceschetti house, and Filippini in his 
own, must have found the place fitted to their wants ; but it may be doubted 
if Count Buttafuoco, after the celebrated letter of Napoleon Buonaparte, did 
so. All these, and other names remarkable in history, stamp Vescovato as 
a town of peculiar interest. 

After coffee, I took leave of my landlord, M. Gravie, who said, "Je ne 
crois pas, monsieur, que nous nous reverrons. " On my asking him last night 
if he had ever revisited France, the poor old fellow said, " Non, monsieur, 
je n'ai jamais vu la France depuis que je l'ai quittee, et maintenant je ne la 
reverrai plus." I do not think my worthy host was convinced that I was 
not a political agent of some sort, partly because it has always been a charac- 
teristic of Vescovato to mix itself up in or initiate surprising political events ; 
and partly that, after all, it is very difficult for these people to reconcile the 
popular notion of a painter laboriously working his way from place to place 

May 23.] JOURNEY TO BASTIA. 1 89 

with that of an elderly traveller speaking four languages, and going about 
with a carriage, luggage, and a servant. It is of no use to attempt explana- 
tions — qui s'excuse s'accuse — and, therefore, " silence is golden " is the best 
rule of the traveller's life in these lands. 

So at 5 A.M. I came down, leaving Domenico and C 0, to follow by the 
shady lanes where Jean Jacques Rousseau should have loitered ; and, till 
6.30, I draw below the town, by the side of the road, which is, as last night, 
all alive with peasants, now going to their work in the fields, many of them 
in cars or on horseback, and all giving me a civil " Bonjour." Of costume 
there is literally none hereabouts, any more than in other parts of Corsica, 
unless the universal wearing of one or sometimes two gourds, many of them 
very large and flat, be considered as such. As the territory of Vescovato 
is all about the low lands near the sea-shore, where it is not easy to find 
good water, the villagers here take a large supply with them for their day's 

In making a painting of Vescovato, as I hope one day to do, the 
luxuriantly leafy aspect of the place should be well attended to, and the 
rich broken colours of the houses, so unlike most in Corsica ; especially when 
the stream below the town is fuller of water than it now is, few more beautiful 
subjects could be chosen. By 7 A.M. I am once more driving along the Bastia 
road, Flora having politely come up the Vescovato lane to meet me, lest I 
should miss seeing the carriage. At this hour the richly-wooded and almost 
unbroken line of hills on the left of the highway are shadeless and glaring 
in the full eastern sunshine ; the time of their great beauty was that of even- 
ing, when they were varied and lighted up by the long shadows and gold 
gleams of western sunset. 

The valley of the river Golo and its bridge is soon passed, and already 
Bastia, the northern capital of Corsica, is seen, beyond what seems an inter- 
minable straight wide road. On the right hand, stretching to the sea, lie the 
great marsh and plain of ancient Mariana,^) and the wide Etang de Biguglia, 

(*) The old cathedral of Mariana, now called La Canonica, is a curious and picturesque ruin on the 
sea-shore, overgrown with herbs and shrubs, its columns all standing, its roof open, and with figures of 
animals sculptured on its facade. — Valery, i., p. 314. 

The ruins of Mariana lie an hour's walk off from the road, towards the sea-coast. Here, as at 
Aleria, I found extensive tracts strewn with stones of walls covering the whole ground. The ruins of 
Mariana are yet more insignificant than those of Aleria. . . Two ruined churches alone attract 
attention : they are the most prominent ruins of the middle age period. The first and smaller one 
was a beautiful chapel, the long nave of which has been well preserved. It has a pulpit decorated 
outside by six pilasters of the Corinthian order. A mile further stand the beautiful ruins of a larger 
church, of which, likewise, the nave remains erect. It is called the Canonica. The building is a 
basilica of three naves, with rows of pilasters of the Doric order, and a pulpit constructed like a 
Gothic chapel on both sides. . . . It is in every respect like a basilica of the Pisans. — Gregorovius, 
p. 485. 

There are ruins of Roman construction still existing at Mariana, pilasters of a bridge which crossed the 
(iolo, those of a small octagon temple near the church La Canonica, portions of great parallel walls, &c, 


so pestilentially malarious as summer draws on. I could well have liked to 
get a drawing of the site of the old city, but at 8 A.M. it begins to be too hot 
to indulge in wanderings over a marshy district of most suspiciously unhealthy 
aspect. Not much of the old city, I believe, remains above ground, but 
there might be picturesque masses of Roman brickwork, and vegetation ; 
and the far hills, did circumstances allow, would combine to make a good 
illustration of the ruins. Borgo, Furiani, Lucciani, all villages on the left 
as you approach Bastia, would well have been worth a visit had it been 
possible to compass it.C) 

Meanwhile, signs of life and cultivation continue to increase as I go on ; 

&c. ; ruins of baths well paved with Roman bricks, &c. ; vestiges of a canal, &c. ; Roman tiles, sarcophagi, 
&c, &c. — Galletti, p. 189. 

The ruins of Mariana are less apparent than those of Aleria, being in a plain more or less culti- 
vated, and the Abbe Galletti says that many portions of the old city have disappeared even in his own 
remembrance. [The Abbe makes some strictures on Marmocchi's book, it seems to me with justice. 
"No trace," says Marmocchi, "exists of the town of Mariana, nor can the geographer discover the 
exact spot occupied." — E. L.] 

Biguglia, now a little village with less than 300 inhabitants, succeeded to the noble Mariana, and was 
the capital of the island under the protecting government of the Pisans from 1090 to 1300. Biguglia 
preserved its rank of capital till the year 1380, when the Genoese governor, Leonello Lomellino, driven 
from it by Henri de la Rocca, built further away on the sea-shore a fort, which afterwards became Bastia. 
The lagoon of Biguglia, three leagues long, in some places half a league broad, and which has a super- 
ficies of 3,000 hectares, is, from its insalubrity, the scourge of the neighbourhood, and its exhalations 
affect the public health even as far as Bastia. — Valery. 

The exhalations that rise from the waters of this lagoon have always been the scourge of Biguglia, 
which is now only a small hamlet. The inhabitants of Furiani, Borgo, and Lucciana, and even of the 
city of Bastia, often suffer from the effects of its homicidal insalubrity. — Galletti, p. 17. 

( J ) Furiani, where the Corsicans in a national assembly first organised their insurrection against the 
Genoese, and elected the prudent and intrepid Giafferi one of their leaders, with cries of "Evviva la 
liberta ! evviva il popolo !" Furiani, where in almost their last struggle 200 Corsicans held the fortifica- 
tions long after they were a heap of ruins, and at length cut their way by night to the shore. — Forester, 
pp. 49, 95. 

In the battle of Borgo, 1768, the Corsicans, under Pasquale and Clement Paoli and other chiefs, 
thrice repulsed the French army of 15,000 men, under Chauvelin, and forced them to retreat in disorder 
to Bastia. The garrison of Borgo, a force of 700 men, laid down their arms, &c. 

On the slopes of the hills that extend from Bastia to the river Fiumalto, remains of antiquity are 
frequently discovered. In all probability Etruscans and Romans possessed country houses or villas 
there. An immense number of tombs containing lachrymatory vases are found there. 

The sulphurous waters of Merenzana, on which the Romans had constructed baths, are at a place 
now called Marmorana, and the ground is full of vestiges of Roman antiquity. — Galletti, p. 193. 

In the year 1832 — sometimes the occasions of bloody feuds between two villages are very ridiculous, 
a dead donkey was the cause of one. In Easter week a procession going to a certain chapel stumbled 
upon a dead ass in the road. The sexton was angry, and began to curse those who had thrown the 
ass on the road, and thus shown dishonour to the holy procession. A strife immediately arose, 
between the people of Lucciana and those of Borgo, which parish the ass belonged to, and arms were 
seized forthwith, and shots exchanged ; the holy procession had suddenly converted itself into a battle. 
The one village cast the burthen upon the other ; each carried the ass to the other : one while they of 
Borgo dragged him to Lucciana, another while they of Lucciana did the same to Borgo, and this in the 
midst of constant shooting and wild battle cries on both sides. The men of Borgo once dragged the 
dead ass quite to the church of Lucciana, and threw him down at the church-door ; but those of Lucciana 
took him up again, and then having taken Borgo by storm, impaled him on the belfry-tower. At length 
the podesta caused the corpus delicti — which was beaten into a pulp by its wandering, and was in a state 
of dissolution — to be seized and buried in peace. The poet Viale has composed a comic epic on this 
story. — Gregorovius, p. 417. 


wide corn-fields, lupines, and great plantations of almond trees stretch on both 
sides of the road ; there are hay-fields, too, with vulgar domestic hay-cocks, 
dear to the memories of tumbling childhood ; even the wayside accompani- 
ments are different from those of West Corsica, inasmuch as here there are 
lines of great aloes, while, instead of fern, asphodel, arbutus and its blackbirds, 
the road is edged with thistles, tipped with the familiar goldfinch. Peasants, 
on foot or in cars, are numerous ; and two Diligences — to Cervione and 
Bonifacio — a sprinkling of wayside houses, and a very dusty road, all unite 
to exhibit a different and livelier condition of things in the neighbourhood 
of Bastia than is found elsewhere in Corsica. Nor is the drive without 
interest of association, apart from that of the destroyed Mariana, since, on 
the hills to the left hereabouts, took place some of the greatest events 
in the island history — to wit, at Borgo, Biguglia, and Furiani, villages all 
perched at some height above the plain, and apparently worth a painter's 

For the last hour the road has been quite near the sea, and now, at 8.30, 
walled gardens, a large cemetery, and villas on the hill sides, announce the 
approach to Bastia, which is reached by 9 A.M., through a populous and not 
over-clean suburb, just previously to entering which there is a picturesque 
view of the city, to which I shall have to return.^) 

(*) Bastia has of a long time been reckoned the capital of Corsica. . . It has a stately appearance 
from the sea, being built on the declivity of a hill ; though upon entering the town one is a good deal 
disappointed, for the houses are in general ill-built and the streets narrow, and from the situation of the 
town necessarily very steep. — Boswell, p. 22. 

Bastia, built in an amphitheatrical form, in the middle of gardens of olive, citron, and orange trees, 
may be said rather to be long than large. The port only contains fifty vessels, but might, if enlarged, 
rival that of Leghorn, which improvement might be made at the expense of 1,150,000 francs ; but the 
engineers doubt the possibility of such additions. 

The buildings of Bastia are generally little worthy of note ; the finest is the military hospital, 
anciently the convent of St. Francis. The citadel is commanded by hills covered with small 

The donjon of Bastia il maschio is of the fifteenth century, and was commenced by one of the most 
brilliant heroes of Corsica, Count Vincentello dTstria. The celebrated bastion of St. Charles, seen 
from the port, and constructed some time later, has given its name to the city. The Genoese raised the 
fine pile of building used as the residence of their governors ; Genoese dungeons, less celebrated than 
those of the rival Republic of Venice, are hardly less hideous. The old and handsome palace of the 
French governors is now the Sous-prefecture, the Royal Court, and the Court of Assize ; while the 
ground floor serves as barracks for the Corsican Voltigeurs. The churches, richly gilded, and orna- 
mented with marble, vividly recall those of Italy ; the reflex of Italian manners, too, is very perceptible 
at Bastia, a refinement wanting its new rival Ajaccio, that savage head-quarters of a department, spite of 
the administrative buildings with which it has been decorated at no small expense. In the church of St. 
John the Baptist is a small old picture of the miraculous draught, which seems a good work. The 
cathedral, though old and fine, is not the most magnificent church of the city. At the church of La 
Conception was held the first parliament of 1795, and the bust of Paoli was inaugurated with a perfidious 
respect, just as he was about to be entirely put aside ; a grave error on the part of England, for only 
Paoli, as viceroy, could have prevented the return of the French Republicans. . . . The pavement 
of Bastia, formed of slabs of Brando stone, is superior to that of Milan, Florence, or Naples, and 
worthier of flooring palaces and temples than of being laid down in streets. The markings and cloud- 
ings of this stone come out after being wet by rain with a singular brilliancy. — Valery, i. , pp. 2, 4, 14. 

I cannot imagine any one staying longer than they can help in Bastia ; its only attractions are the sea 


Bastia, a city containing about 20,000 inhabitants, is a complete contrast 
to its quiet, not to say slow, co-capital Ajaccio, where, comparatively speaking, 
few and far between are the walkers about. Here all is bustle and life, and 

and the mountain view from the environs ; it is the most populous town in Corsica (16,000), and has the 
largest commerce. Bastia was the standing point from which the old division of Corsica into the " di 
qua" and the "di la dei monti " (the country on this side and the country on the other side of the 
mountains) was made. The division was by no means equal; the country " di qua," including the 
present arrondissements of Bastia, Corte, and Calori ; being one-third larger than the " di la," com- 
prising those of Ajaccio and SarteneV — Forester, p. 39. 

The sea passage from Leghorn is beautiful, and more entertaining than that from Leghorn to Genoa. 
You certainly enjoy the sight of the picturesque islands in the Tuscan channel. — Gregorovius, 
p. 99. 

Bastia lies in an amphitheatre round the little harbour ; the sea forms here no gulf, but only a 
landing-place or cala The town rises in terraces above the harbour, with high tower- 
shaped, closely crowded houses Above the town are the green mountains, with some 

abandoned convents and beautiful olive-groves. Bastia has its name from the bastion built there by the 
Genoese. The town is not ancient ; at least neither Pliny, nor Strabo, nor Ptolemy, mention any town 
upon its site. Formerly there was there the little marina of the neighbouring village, Cardo. Then, 
in the year 1383, the Genoese governor, Lionello Lomellino, built the donjon keep, or castle, round 
which a division of the town, the Terra Nuova, soon clustered. The Genoese afterwards removed the 
seat of their Corsican Government from Biguglia to Bastia, and there resided the Fregosos, the Spinolas, 
the Dorias (eleven Dorias governed Corsica during more than 400 years), the Fiescos, the Cibbas, the 
Giustiniani, Negri, Vivaldi, Fornari, and so many other nobles of renowned Genoese families. When 
under French rule, Corsica was divided, in the year 1797, into two departments named after the rivers 
Golo and Liamone, Bastia remained the capital of the department of Golo. In the year 181 1 the two 
divisions were again united, and the smaller town of Ajaccio became the capital of the island. Bastia 
cannot yet get over her vexation at having sunk into a sub-prefecture, but in industry, commerce, and 
intelligence she is, without doubt, the leading town of Corsica. The mutual jealousy of the Bastinese 
and the citizens of Ajaccio is almost absurd, and would appear ridiculous did not one know that the 
division of Corsica into the land on the nearer and on the farther side of the mountains is historical, and 
very ancient, and the character of the inhabitants of the two halves fundamentally different. — Gregorovius, 
p. 105. 

The houses, though palace-like, have no art nor noble materials ; the stranger meets here not a 
single specimen of beautiful architecture. 

Marbceuf, who ruled Corsica for sixteen years, is buried in the handsome church of St. John the 

The views towards the coast and south of Bastia surprised me ; for there the mountains, which, like 
almost all the mountains in Corsica, are of the finest pyramidal forms, recede farther from the coast and 
sink into a smiling plain. The great lagoon of Biguglia lies picturesquely there, girded by sedge, still 
and dead, scarce furrowed by a narrow fishing boat. — Gregorovius, pp. 106 — no. 

Corsica is extremely well supplied with fish. I never, indeed, could hear of any other fish in their 
rivers or fresh water lakes, except trout and eel. These, however, are found in great plenty, very fat, 
and of an uncommon size. But the rich treasure of fish for Corsica is in its sea ; for on all its coasts 
there is the greatest variety of all the best kinds, and in particular a sort of ton or sturgeon, and the 
small fish called sardine, which is of an exquisite taste. And in several places the Corsicans have beds 
of oysters remarkably large. — Boszvell, p. 37. 

"No lights but the stars of heaven burned in the steep and narrow streets of Bastia," says 
Gregorovius. [There is gas now. — E. L.] 

The town of Bastia, built at the northern extremity of the eastern site, is at present the richest, most 
commercial, and industrious of Corsica. It owes its prosperity to its geographical position, to its place 
opposite Italy, to its continual communication with Leghorn, and to its proximity to the richest and 
best cultivated basins of the island. — Grandchamps, p. 42. 

The port of Bastia is the most frequented of Corsica, but wants extent, and is difficult to enter, and 
eventually a new port must be made. — Grandchamps, p. 95. 

Bastia owes its name to the principal bastion of the castle founded in 1383 by Leonello Lomellino. 
The Genoese made it their principal stronghold in the north of the island, and the residence of the 
governor of the province. It was the first town attacked by the French in 1553. From 1669 the 

May 24.] STAY IN BASTIA. 193 

a broad street, paved in a first-rate manner with flags after the Tuscan fashion, 
and with many new and large buildings, gives one an impression of having 
suddenly arrived at Leghorn or Naples. At the Hotel de France I get a 
spacious quiet room, and among the good things of a well-served breakfast 
in the trattoria on the ground floor, let not the fresh anchovies — for which this 
coast is famous — be forgotten, nor the cherries and strawberries of the Cap 
Corse gardens. 

The afternoon passed in exploring the town, as well as in making a draw- 
ing of it from near the new pier or breakwater, now in course of construction ; 
but there is not much to be got out of Bastia in a picturesque sense. A draw- 
ing might, indeed, be made of the old port, by way of displaying shipping, 
&c. ; but to portray all its tall narrow houses, backed by high green hills, 
would take a longer time than I can afford it. Somewhat of Genoa memo- 
ries revives as you walk along the lanes in the lower part of the city (the wide 
streets and new quarter — where there are blocks of stone-built, handsome, and 
solid houses — are all in the upper part of it), shop windows exhibiting gourds 
prettily set with stoppers and chains of silver, small silver and coral models 
of Corsican daggers, miniature remembrances of bygone days of Vendetta ; 
but there is little novelty or beauty of any sort to detain a traveller long in a 
place, the most striking characteristic of which is its industrious and bustling 

May 24. — After ascertaining times and distances as accurately as 
I can, the best way of disposing of the ten or eleven days of my re- 
maining stay in Corsica seems as follows: — to employ two at Cap Corse, 
starting thither early to-morrow ; three for the lower Balagna, and two for 
the upper part of it ; and from Corte (which I must pass through once 
more) the remaining time may perhaps admit of my returning to Ajaccio 
by Ghisoni, Marmano, and Zicavo, if the above plan can be carried out 
without hindrance from weather or otherwise. Meanwhile, what little 
there is for me to do at Bastia on its south side can be easily despatched 
to-day, leaving leisure withal for letter writing in some country nook, 
for this city doth not possess the charm of quiet, nor is a return through 
its streets desirable at broiling mid-day. So I make an early start before 
5 A.M., G. carrying an over-night-bespoken breakfast as well as folios, &c, 

States of the Terra de' Communi were held in the citadel of Bastia. In 1794 Bastia fell into the power 
of the Anglo-Paolists, and remained two years in the hands of the English. Retaken in 1796 it was the 
chief place of the department of the Golo till 181 1, and now is the chef lieu of an arrondissement. — 
Grzwichamps, p. 44. 

On the rock promontory between the two coves, the northern called Porto Cardo, the southern 
Porto Vecchio, the Genoese built a fortress which, towards the year 1407, Nicoroso de Manicipio, then 
Governor for the republic of Genoa, was obliged to sell for 700 Genoese livres to Vincentello dTstria, 
successor of Arrigo. This fortress fell later into the power of the Genoese government. — Galletti, p. 91. 



and getting coffee in a cafe by the way, walk on some four miles ; the 
view of the city looking eastward cannot be executed till later, the sun 
rising fully opposite me ; and instead of attempting it I make a drawing 
from a high point near the road, close to the spot I fix on for the day's 

In the latter part of summer, the great extent of marshy flat be- 
tween this and the sea — a tract then totally deserted — must be as dreary 
to look at as dangerous to remain near ; but just now the high road and 
the seaward paths among the fields are lively with peasants working at 
the hay-harvest ; the bright sun, though extremely hot, is tempered by 
a pleasant breeze, and the pale aloes are beautiful in broad light and 
shadow. Beyond the white city of Bastia you see a long way up the coast 
of Cap Corse, but the single and tame line of the hills seems to contain 
no scenery to be put in comparison with that of Western or Southern 

From 8 A.M. till 4 P.M. I pass the time in a hay-field below the friendly 
shade of olive trees, writing letters ; a blazing fringe of scarlet poppies and 
the blueness of sea beyond and sky above, are all day long a charm of 
glorious colour. A hoopoe or two comes near now and then, and except 
these, no other bird but one, who sits in a companionable way on the topmost 
bare bough of an almond tree a few yards off, hour after hour, chattering with 
a soft multitudinous kind of note, as if he were four or five birds instead of 
one, chibbly-wibbly-twitter-witter unceasingly, unless when he darts down to 
the ground to seize a beetle. This shrike — such at least he seems to me — is 
a restless little fellow, flitting at times from tree to tree, but always returning 
to his favourite broad branch opposite where I lie. He gives me no little 
amusement ; sometimes, besides his continuous small chatter, he warbles with 
a good deal of pleasing delicate variety. 

Slowly returning at 5 by the dusty road to Bastia, I make a drawing of 
the city from the entrance, at a spot where, by the usual destiny of discomfort, 
the only available site was not only close to the cliff, but exposed to the 
throng of carts and loaded mules, which at this hour fill all the public road. 
The Suliot, however, did good service, by warding off the latter, and by 
signing to the drivers of the former to give me a little more room, as 
well as by cajoling and conversing with the many children who crowded 
round, and I was enabled to get through an elaborate drawing success- 
fully. Bastia from this point is picturesque, though not beautiful ; no 
charm of architecture commends it in any way ; yet the large masses 
of building on the edges of cliffs, with caves and coves, slips of sand, 
and clear water, in deep shadow, and all alive with dabbling and swim- 
ming children, make a good picture ; though the houses are so full of very 
elaborate detail, and so crowded with peculiarities characteristic of Cor- 


sican buildings, that the view is one requiring much patience to complete. 
(See Plate 31.) 

By sunset, passing through the narrow suburbans treets and the broader 
handsome portion of the newer town, I return to dine at the comfortable 
Hotel de France.(') 

May 25. — The daily life of cities begins late ; nor in nor out of this 
hotel can coffee be procured before 5.30 A.M., when I set off with trap, Flora 
and C°-, to Cap Corse,( 2 ) to get as far as Luri, Macinaggio, or Rogliano, 

( l ) Fontanone is famous for having been the place where, they say, Bernadotte, King of Sweden, 
was made corporal, at the time of the construction of the road from Bastia to' Ajaccio, under Louis 
XVI. Bernadotte, when corporal, often worked in the bureau of an employe in the town of Bastia, 
and falling in love with his daughter, asked her in marriage, and was refused. Later, when wishing to 
marry a girl of Cardo above Bastia, he met with a similar refusal. The woman of Cardo, who had 
died lately at an advanced age, often related anecdotes of her acquaintance with Bernadotte. — GalletU, 
p. 196. 

The common soldier, Bernadotte, once fell in love with the daughter of a peasant of Cardo ; the 
parents repulsed the povero diavolo. But the povero diavolo became king, and if he had married the 
lass she would have been queen. Now she goes about carrying water on her head, grieving she is not 
a Swedish sovereign. — Gre^orovius, p. 109. 

Half a league from Bastia is the little village of Cardo, where, of all the exquisite springs of water in 
Corsica, exists one of the best. The inhabitants of Cardo sell it at Bastia in the summer for two 
sous a bottle ; and this unique branch of commerce brings as much as 600 francs a year to some of the 
poor families of Cardo. The picturesque source of Cardo gushes from rocks hidden in olive, walnut, 
and chesnut trees ; almost too cold in summer, and temperate in winter, it is abundant, and never dries 
up. The old fountain made by M. de Marbceuf is now nearly forsaken, and the water is taken from 
higher up, because one of those immense Corsican walnut-trees, which might yield such profit to 
industry, chokes the subterranean canal with its roots. Some of these walnut trees yield as much as 
120 bushels of nuts ; the most remarkable are those at the village of Asco, in the arrondissement of 
Corte. — Vale?y, i., p. 31. 

An illustrious French soldier acknowledged that the happiest day of his life was that when, 
a common soldier and obliged to work at making the road to St. Florent, he was named corporal. 
But there exists in Corsica, besides the road to St. Florent, another and a more singular monu- 
ment of the work of Bernadotte. During the leisure which his new step allowed him, he was em- 
ployed by the usher of the old council to copy rolls ; the archives of the council possessed volu- 
minous bundles of the handy-work of the royal and warlike hand of the future successor of the 
Wasas — all of which writings have since passed to the archives of the prefecture of Ajaccio. — 
Valery, i. , p. 32. 

( ) The northern point of Corsica, called Capo Corso, is about thirty miles long, very mountainous and 
rocky, but covered with vines and olives. There are, in several parts of the island, but particularly in 
Capo Corso, a great many ancient towers, built about 300 or 400 years ago, to defend the inhabitants 
against the incursions of the Turks and other pirates.— Boswell, p. 21. 

[Bos well sailed from Leghorn in a Tuscan vessel, in a calm of two days, and landed at Centuri, and 
thence went to the house of Signor Antonio Antonelli at Morsiglia. Then to Pino, to Signor Damiano 
lomasi. "I got," he says, " a man with an ass to carry my baggage, but such a road I never saw ; it 
was absolutely scrambling along the face of a rock overhanging the sea, upon a path sometimes not a 
foot broad. I thought the ass rather retarded me, so I prevailed with the man to take my portmanteau 
and other things on his back (p. 276)." "Throughout all Corsica, except in garrison towns, there is 
hardly an inn." "For some time I had very curious travelling, mostly on foot, and attended by a 
couple of stout women, who carried my baggage on their heads (p. 278)." "I was lodged sometimes 
in private houses, sometimes in convents, being always well recommended from place to place — at Patri- 
monio, &c, at Oletta."] 

Centuri, though at present but a small harbour, may be greatly enlarged, as its situation is very con- 
venient. — Boswell, p. 16. 

1 he inhabitants of Cap Corse, peaceable, honest, laborious, seem really the virtuous Troglodytes of 
Corsica. No " Vendetta" is known to this interesting population, and from 1825 to 1830 there \v;b not 

N 2 


as may happen. Mountains, richly wooded, and dotted with villas, rise 
directly above Bastia, and are prolonged to the northernmost point of 
the island ; along their base runs the road, ever close to the sea, a sort 
of cornice, which follows all the indentations and sinuosities of the coast. 
This highway, besides the hot, dusty, and shelterless road to Bonifacio, 

a single case of murder or assassination. The grand line of mountains of Cap Corse fronts magnificent 
sea views, with shores rich in vine, olive, and fig. — Valery, i., pp. 29, 30. 

The social culture of the vine, which is identified with security, ease, and the progress of civilisation, 
is not less extended at Cap Corse than on the Continent. The annual amount export of wine reaches 
300,000 or 400,000 francs. These wines, light and generous, and which keep well, are often sold as 
Spanish. It is at Cap Corse only that the production of silk has been successfully attempted. . 
This silk, said to be even superior to that of Piedmont, is one of the many neglected sources of riches 
and prosperity in the island. — Fa/cry, i., p. 30. 

The wine of Morsiglia, in Cap Corse, is thought as good as the best muscat. — Galletti, p. 107. 
Cape Corso is the long narrow peninsula which runs out into the sea, and terminates Corsica 
towards the north. The rugged mountain chain, called the Serra, traverses it, rising in Monte 
Alticcione and in Monte Stello to a height of more than 5,000 feet, and descending in lovely valleys 
towards the coasts. 

Here and there an abandoned tower on the shore gives a picturesque aspect to the landscape. 
All Corsica is beset with these towers, built by the Pisans and Genoese to protect the coasts 
against the predatory Saracens. They are round or quadrangular, built in lonely situations, of 
brown granite, and of a height of not more than from thirty to forty feet. All these towers are 
now abandoned and falling to decay ; they give an exceedingly romantic character to the Corsican 

Rambling on these heights at a distance from the sea-shore, one sees little of the charms of this 
beautiful district, which lie concealed in the valleys. All Cape Corso is a system of such glens towards 
the sea on both sides. 

Cape Corso is not, as might be supposed, a mere cape or headland, but a narrow peninsula, 
containing a number of villages, and washed on each side by the Tuscan sea ; being about twenty- 
five miles long, though only from five to ten miles broad. Nearly the whole area is occupied by 
a continuation of the central chain which traverses the island from north to south. The average 
height of the range through Cape Corso, where it is called La Serra, does not exceed 1,500 feet 
above the level of the sea, but it swells into lofty peaks ; the highest, Monte Stella, between Brando 
and Nonza, rising 5,180 feet above the Mediterranean. — Gregorovins, p. 32. 

The village of Tomino, with a population of 700, has on one side a cheerful view over 
mountains and well cultivated valleys ; on the other, an admirable sea view, the isles of Pianosa, 
Montecristo, and Elba, of Capraija, and Gorgona, and the coasts of Genoa and Tuscany. Looking at 
this prospect, one might almost believe, with Peter of Corsica, that nature arranged all this magnificent 
decoration for the particular benefit of his countrymen. Tomino was the cradle of Christianity 
in Corsica about the year 580 — a fact which gave Cape Corso its ancient surname "Sacrum 
Promontorium. " Little caves in the woods near Forcore and Cala, which the country people believe 
to have served as shelter against the Saracens, were the obscure catacombs of the first Christians ot 
the island. — Valeiy, i., p. 38. 

The bold expedition, started from Macinajo, by which Paoli took the Island of Capraia from the 
Genoese in 1767, was principally composed of people of Tomino, whose courage he well knew. The 
last soldier of the illustrous Corsican general was from Tomino, and died, aged ninety-two, in 1826. 
In the church a beautiful silver tabernacle, executed at Lima, and presented by an inhabitant of Tomino 
who had made his fortune there, was offered by the commune to Paoli that it might be changed into 
money in order to carry on the war with Genoa. 

Macinajo, a small though safe port, insufficient for the commerce of Cape Corse, and very near 
Tomino, after having been the point of departure for the Capraia exploit was the scene of the people's 
enthusiasm, when Paoli, an exile for twenty years, landed here on July 14, 1790. — Valery, i., p. 39. 

The port of Macinaggio is, after that of Bastia, the most frequented in Corsica, serving as an outlet 
for the produce of great part of Cap Corse, the inhabitants of which, laborious, hardy, and enterprising, 
are mostly seamen. But it is much choked with sand, and requires much to be done for its improve- 
ment. — Grandchamps, p. 96. 

The little island of Capraija belongs now to Italy, the Genoese having reserved it to themselves by 


and a third, a steep ascent, leading over the hills to the canton of Neb- 
bio, seem the only drives about Bastia ; and, from what I have observed 
of its position, I cannot think it well adapted to be the residence of 
those who set their lines in pleasant places. Rambles to the villages 
high up on the hills there must needs be, and doubtless many pleasant 
ones ; but for invalids, the city — noisy, though cheerful, and exposed to 
violent winds in winter, and to excessive heat in summer — cannot, I 
fancy, be attractive. Yet, in so short a stay, and with so little scope 
for observation, a man may overlook much, and easily jump at wrong 

The way onward has plenty of interest ; here the view is never impeded 
by high walls, as in the neighbourhood of the northern lakes or the southern 
towns of Italy. To the right is the bright calm sea, with Elba on its horizon, 
and, looking to the left you seem always in a garden of almond, walnut, fig, 
and cherry trees (the Diligence I meet is piled up high with cherry baskets 
for the Bastia market), corn, potatoes, and flax, varied at times by olive 
groves, while in the roadside hedges, pink convolvulus, scarlet pea, and 
honeysuckle are blooming in gay and fragrant wreaths. 

Brando, with one or two other villages, is passed ; there is a celebrated 
grotto here( l ) — " mais nous en avons tant vu — we have seen so many," and I 
will not stop at the grotto. 

But Erbalunga, a good-sized and most picturesque place, some nine or ten 
kilometres from Bastia, cannot be left so hastily. Standing on a little pro- 
montory, with a dark castle in ruin at its point, ( 2 ) and with Elba beyond, this 

the treaty of 176S, by which Corsica was ceded to France. Its circumference is seventeen miles, its 
population 100. — Valery, i., p. 40. 

Capraija, which the Corsicans conquered in the time of Paoli, remained in the possession of the 
Genoese when they sold Corsica to France ; and, with Genoa, the island then fell to the share of 
Piedmont. — Gregorov.ius, p. 101. 

The commune of Ersa is the land's end of Corsica ; the commune has three coves or little ports, of 
which the largest is called Barcaggio. — Galletti, p. 105. 

( ! ) The pretty cascade of Brando, falling some thirty feet, and about half a league from Erbalunga, 
is worth leaving the road to see. It is from Brando that the beautiful stone — a kind of marble which 
makes so noble a pavement for Bastia — is brought. — Valery, i. , p. 34. 

" In one of the rocks on the coast is the beautiful stalactite cave of Brando The pale 

half light now illuminated this beautiful crypt with such fantastic stalactitic formations as only a Gothic 
architect can imagine, in pointed arches, capitals, tabernacles, and rosettes. The grotto is the oldest 
Gothic cathedral in Corsica ; nature built it so in her most enchanting whimsical humour." So says the 
poetical Gregorovius, p. 154. 

The grotto of Brando, discovered in 1841 by M. Ferdinandi, a retired commandant, is excessively 
curious. — Galletti, p. 98. 

An account of the Grotto of Brando may be found in Miss Campbell's unpretending and valuable 
<l Southward Ho ! or, Notes on Corsica" (1868, Hatchard). 

( 2 ) Here was formerly the residence of the most powerful Signori of Cape Corso, and the ancient 
castle of the Signori del Gentili still looks down upon Erbalunga, its mighty black walls towering up 
from a rocky hill. 

. . . . Even at the present day the Corsican mountaineers look down with contempt upon the 
gentle and stirring people of the peninsula of Cape Corso. The historian Filippini says of the 



[May 25. 


is one of the very prettiest of scenes, and 
detains me drawing it till 7 A.M. The 
still sea, palest of the pale, and more 
like liquid opal, and the equally pale 
sky of early morning, are beautifully 
contrasted with the dark gray of the 
rocks and houses, at this time in 
deepest shadow, and with the luxuriant 
foreground of fig trees and other foliage. 

Beyond Erbalunga, this northern 
Corsican cornice becomes more wild, 
and resembles that on the southern or 
Bonifacio district (see page J^) } except 
that here there is a frequent growth of 
aloes, wanting in the south. In both 
the road runs at times close to pic- 
turesque cliffs, or descends sharply 
inland to the marina (or " port," of 
some village), which you may see high 
up on the hill, a half-moon of sand, 
with a few fishermen's houses, leaving 
which you again mount up to follow the 
cliff-cornice, with rocks and " maquis " 
above you, rocks and sea below. 

Sisco ( ] ) is one of the largest of these 

inhabitants, "they dress well, and are, from their 
commerce, and the vicinity of the continent, much 
more domestic than the other Corsicans. Their in- 
dustry is employed solely on wine, which they export 
to the continent." As early as Filippini's time, the 
wine of Cape Corso was renowned, and mainly of a 
white colour. The wines of the greatest repute are 
those of Liiri and Rogliano ; these are among the 
most excellent growths of southern Europe, re- 
sembling those of Spain, Cyprus, and Syracuse. 
Cape Corso is, however, rich in oranges and lemons. 
— Gregorovius, p. 156. 

(') The church of Sisco possesses among its nu- 
merous relics two of the oldest which the imagination 
of Catholicism, either Spanish or Italian, has ever 
originated ; some almonds from the garden of Eden, 
and some of the clay from which Adam was made. 
The other principal relics are the rod with which 
Moses divided the Red Sea, that of Aaron, and some 
of the manna of the desert. — Valery, i., p. 35. 

The people of Sisco may feel some pride in pos- 
sessing such fine things as a bit of the clod from which 
Adam was modelled, a few almonds from Paradise, 

May 25.] 



sea-wall villages or mannas beyond Cap Sagro (its church is famous for the 
relics it contains) ; that of Pietra Cor- 
bara is a second; of Porticciuolo or 
Cognano a third ; and from the head 
of each of these little bays you look 
up a valley wholly green, closed in 
by the wall of Cap Corse hills, that 
shut out by their direct north and 
south course all the western side of 
the cape. There is but little variety 
in the drive ; but the oily-calm deep 
blue breadth of sea, and the beautiful 
flower-spangled "maquis" — for there 
is little cultivation hereabouts except 
in the lateral valleys — with every 
now and then peeps of the high back- 
bone of Cap Corse, prevent the drive 
being tedious. 

Porticciuolo is the last of these 
poor little sea-shore fishing hamlets, 
with its crescent of sand, its flat of 
grain, and its inland amphitheatre 
of heights, before you reach, at the 
twenty-seventh kilometre from Bastia, 
Santa Severa, the Marina di Luri, a 
forlorn and unpromising cluster of 
cottages. Here there is a road which 
turns inland to the valley of Luri, so 
enthusiastically described to me by 
Miss C, who advised me by all means 
to visit it. 

So little remarkable, however, is 
the first opening of the vale, that I 
feel undecided as to staying here, or 
rather whether I should not go on to 
Macinaggio, and return to Erbalunga 
to sleep. But further on, the thick 

Aaron's rod that blossomed, a bit of manna from 

the desert, a bit of the hide worn by John the Baptist, a bit of Christ's cradle, a bit of Christ's reed, 

and the celebrated rod with which Moses parted the Red Sea. — Page 157. 

An old tower is shown by the people between Sisco and Tietro-Corbara, believed by them to be the 
winter residence of Seneca. — Galletti, p. 102 


growth of very fine old olives, lemon-groves, walnut, and many varieties of 
fruit trees give a new character to the scenery, which improves at every minute. 
All the way along, a tower on a high and remarkable peaked rock, is a 
landmark on the hills, at the farthest end of the vale — this is "Seneca's tower " 
— and now that I have advanced to its widest part, I am ready to confess 
that the valley of Luri is a most lovely place, crowded from end to end with 
profuse vegetation, shut in by beautiful hill forms with scattered hamlets 
on their sides, and seeming altogether like a veritable happy valley of 
Rasselas. (') 

By 10 the principal village, Piazza di Luri, is reached (collectively all the 
hamlets are called Luri, but each has its own name), and one cannot help 
being struck by an aspect of activity and industry in this place widely 
differing from what is to be observed in South and West Corsican villages. 
I have forgotten to ask for a letter to the Make or to some proprietor in 

(*) Switzerland has no view more beautiful than that of Luri, and the latter, besides, has the sea. 
Cultivated with intelligence, refreshed by a torrent, it is divided by a large and broad road down to 
the shore. This is protected from the torrent by a wall, a sort of Cyclopean work, made by the 
inhabitants themselves. The overseer of the works was simply the Juge de Paix, M. Estella, 
a proprietor of the valley, and one of those able and adventurous Corsicans who during more than 
twenty years inhabited Peru. — Valery, i., p. 42. [M. Estella died April, 1841. — E. L.] 

Luri is the most charming valley in Cape Corso, and the most extensive too, though it is only six 
miles long and three broad. Towards the land side it is enclosed by high mountains, on the highest 
summit of which stands a solitary black tower, called the Tower of Seneca, because, according to 
popular story, Seneca passed there the eight years of his exile. ... I have seen many a glorious 
valley in Italy, but I remember none that presents so smiling and joyous an aspect as this vale of 
Luri. . . . Even Ptolemy, m his Corsican Geography, knows the vale of Luri. He calls it Lurinon. 
. . The citrons of this valley are said to be considered the best in all the Mediterranean countries. 
It is principally the species of citrons with thick peel, called Cedri, that is grown here, and especially 
on the whole western coast of the cape, but most of all at Centuri. This tree, which is extremely 
tender, demands careful training. It thrives only in warm sunshine, and in the valleys that are 
sheltered from the wind Libeccio. Cape Corso is a perfect Elysium of this precious tree of the 
Hesperides. — Gregorovhts, pp. 158, 159. 

A little beyond Porticciuolo is Santa Severa, the Marina of Luri, where a very few boats 
may be seen. Hereabouts the ancient Laurinum is generally placed, and, in fact, ruins are 
found in several places around, and in the sea are the remains of some kind of quay. — Galletti, 
p. 103. 

Not much importance is generally attached to the cultivation of the orange and lemon, nor 
are they cared for except in some villages of Cape Corso, Casinca, Marina, in the Nebbio and 
Balagna, Ajaccio, Bonifacio, Cervione, and Bastia. The garden of Barbicaggio near Ajaccio, and 
those of Aregno and Corbara in Balagna produce oranges which do not yield in excellence 
to those of Portugal. A more special attention is given to the culture of the citron, and the 
inhabitants of Cape Corso, more particularly in communication with the Rivieres of Italy, 
have carried this cultivation to a point of great profit. Wherever there is a streamlet of water 
they hasten to plant citron trees, and as this part of the island is exposed to the north wind 
(or Libeccio), the plants are sheltered by high walls, and surrounded besides by a palisade formed 
with brushwood, broom, heath, or other shrubs, woven together very compactly. Nothing is 
neglected to ensure the success of a plant which gives three harvests of its fruit annually. When 
the citrons have reached the size of from two to five kilos weight, they are given to the confectioner. 
— Get I left i, p. 42. 

The mountain between Luri and Meria is almost entirely covered with larix pines, thanks 
to the care of the late M. Estella, who, on returning from America to his native country, caused a 
great extent of land to be sown with pine seed, which in a few years has formed a fine forest. 
- — Calletti, p. 104. 

May 25.] M. CERVONl'S HOUSE. 201 

the valley, and the people about, all of whom seem busy, say there is no 
regular hotel here ; but they direct me to a Casa Cervoni, in the upper part 
of the two or three streets forming the village, just off the main road, at 
which the opinion seems general that I may be able to find a lodging. 

Madame Cervoni, a very tidy bustling little body, comes out of the 
" general shop," or " store " in the lower part of her house, and is at first 
rather difficult as to my request — " they are 'occupati' just now; the 
silkworms — of which their two adjoining houses are full — are about to change, 
and require all their attention," &c, &c. — but after a little time she relents, 
and pleasantly declares she will receive me on condition of my kindly 
adapting myself to the " circonstanze." And then — yet another marvel of 
humble lodgings in remote country parts of Corsica — she shows me into a 
perfectly neat and clean sitting-room up-stairs, with small bed-rooms so 
completely good in all ways, that I resolve at once — especially that I am now 
well persuaded of the beautiful character of Luri scenery — to remain here for 
the night. There will be fully enough work in the valley, and at Seneca's 
tower, to occupy me this afternoon and a part of to-morrow; and, finally, since 
I find on inquiry, that to go on to Tonino or Rogliano would be a journey of 
hurry and fatigue, not reckoning the way back by the sea-wall to Bastia, I 
definitely settle that Luri is to be the farthest point I can visit in the north 
of Corsica. (It is seventeen kilometres from the marina of Luri to Macinaggio, 
and this doubled, with the addition of five hence to the sea, and twenty-seven 
of return to Bastia, are in all sixty-six, a distance which would allow of no 
leisure, even if there are subjects to draw, which is doubtful.) 

The breakfast which my hostess, or rather the host's sister, brings up, is a 
frugal one ; but the nice tidy little woman apologises for its scarcity, on the 
usual ground that it is not possible to get either fish or meat on so short a 
notice ; the extreme cleanliness of everything might have done credit to a 
Dutch inn, and was the counterpart of the hotel at Evisa. As novelties I 
remark a plate of preserved citron, (1) and that the wine is unlike any known 
to my Corsican experience, white, and not unlike an inferior Chablis, but 
stronger. The master of the house, too, comes, and sits down — a plain straight- 
forward man, full of zeal for agricultural progress, and singularly unlike the 
more apathetic Corsican, so generally typical of the race on the further side 
of the island. Not being a regular innkeeper, M. Cervoni says, " I beg 
you to make as much, and as long a use of my house as you please ; this 
room and the bed-room are at your disposal, and one up-stairs for your 
man ; and whatever other assistance or information I can give you, pray let 
me know." 

He talks of silkworms, which, he says, do not as yet succeed particularly 

( ! ) The valley of Luri, and all Cap Corse is famous for the cultivation of the citron. According to 
M. Tommei, the Maire of Luri, the Cape produces 1,600 kilogrammes of this fruit. 


well in the valley, but believes that this arises from want of knowledge and 
care ; of the different sorts of wines made in Cap Corse ; of general culti- 
vation ; and of the Maire, M. Estella, who died in 1 841, and whose portrait 
hangs in the room, the founder of all prosperity in Luri. And I remark his 
Italian to be of the best I have heard spoken in Corsica ; possibly the nearness 
of Tuscany influences the dialect of this northern part of the island, though 
throughout all this Corsican tour I have been agreeably surprised at finding 
no difficulty in understanding the people ; even the peasants talk a sort of 
South-Italian or Neapolitan dialect, which was long ago familiar to me. 

M. Cervoni, as well as M. Tommei, the Maire (who comes to visit me 
on hearing that a stranger has arrived), tells me that I can go up in the 
carriage towards Seneca's tower as far as just below the Capuchin convent 
at its base, by the road which leads to Pino ; and that from the convent 
the ascent on foot is easy. Both host and visitor dissuade me from going 
there till sunrise to-morrow, at which hour, they say, the coast of Italy is 
clearly visible. Miss C. seems to have been a great favourite here, and to 
have delighted all the people by her resolute activity and genial ways. 

Later I went with my pleasant intelligent landlord to see his silkworms 
— two houses full, in every open-windowed room, on stages from floor to 
ceiling, and so placed as to admit of constantly cleaning the "vermi" — 
a sight which recalled to me some nights of Cretan discomfort, when the 
said " vermi," or caterpillars, were not in possession of a home of their own, 
but occupied, very unpleasantly, every inhabitable corner of the dwelling. 
Here everything connected with the culture was faultlessly clean. 

At 3 P.M. I go out, intending to get drawings of this beautiful valley, 
though its position, directly east and west, make it no easy place to study 
in ; all the views, from the nature of the place, require you to sit directly 
opposite the sun, and the blaze of light at this hour tries the sight extremely. 
Some time, therefore, is well spent below a large wych elm, close to the 
church, until near sunset, where the schoolmaster gives me some information 
respecting the valley. There are fourteen hamlets in it, the combined 
population of which is 2,011. Piazza is the name of the principal village; 
Poggio, where the Maire resides, that of the next largest ; Santa Severa is 
the marina. 

Close to where I sit is the stream which runs through the whole length of 
this vale to the sea ; at present but a gentle streamlet, it is a fierce torrent in 
winter, only kept in bounds by the causeway which M. Estella was the first 
to commence. Growing above the stream are mulberry and massive walnut 
trees, ilex, olive, fig, and alder, the great variety of the vegetation in this 
valley being one of its first charms, and filling it with exquisite scenery of 
the quietest and most delightful kind. No loiterers, who at Olmeto, Vico, or 
elsewhere, are so conspicuous an ingredient of Corsican village life, are to be 


seen here ; every one is occupied in agriculture, and the only sounds near are 
from the school close by, whence there comes a hum of studious children, and 
from the low underwood by the water, every bush of which resounds with the 
voices of countless nightingales ; and when, later in the day, I make a drawing 
above the valley from close to a tufted grove of chesnuts, the multitude of 
warblers there is most delightful. 

But, unable to encounter drawing for any length of time in face of the 
setting sun, I am obliged to desist, not before my eyes have suffered. Every- 
body, I observe, as they come up the road to the villages at the west end of 
the valley, protect their sight by umbrellas from the direct rays so exactly 
opposite. There was little to be done, therefore, but to seek out spots below 
the long-armed olives (they are like those at the monastery of S. Procopius in 
Corfu), whence I may make a drawing to-morrow ; and so, by degrees, I go 
back to the village, never in any way molested by any one in this Rasselas' 
" happy valley." 

A dinner, more respected in its commencement of soup and boiled fowl, 
than in its conclusion of citron and raw peas, concludes the day. It should 
not be overlooked that in these places it is expedient to eat up the contents 
of the first dishes presented to you, lest no others so good, or even lest none 
at all, should follow. 

Now that the sun is down, the rich full greenness of this little valley is 
delicious ; but if it is so hot now, what must its temperature be in August ? 
There is a good breeze, however, and no feverish feeling whatever. 

Remembering Olmeto and Sartene, Bonifacio, Tallano, and Vico, how 
grateful is the cleanliness of this pleasant little house ! Talk with my land- 
lord and his intelligent and agreeable sister passed away the rest of the 

May 26. — The most restless or fastidious might sleep well in the little bed- 
room of the Maison Cervoni at Luri, the cleanliness of which was so evident 
that I did not even have my camp-bed set up. The obliging people of the 
house had risen, purposely to get me coffee, at a very early hour, and at 4 A.M. 
Domenico and the trap were ready — Flora, perceiving that no luggage was to 
be taken, wisely preferring to remain behind. 

The carriage road leading from Luri to Pino ( l ) on the west side of Cap 
Corse, is one of the more recently made routes forestieres of Corsica ; it 
soon ascends the hills at the end of the valley, winding up the Cap Corse 
backbone, as it were, by beautiful woods of chesnut and ilex above Poggio 
and other hamlets — every turn bringing to view fresh charms, either in the 
combinations of the convent and the rock of Seneca's tower, or in the long 
vista of the vale of Luri, still all in shadow as far as the faint blue sea line. 

(') The view of the western coast, with its red reefs and little indented rocky bays, and of the 


By 5 the top of the ascent is reached, one which it would not be a 
pleasure to drive down unless with a careful driver, by reason of frequent 
sharp turns on the edge of steep precipices, and of the absence of parapets. 
In a narrow cutting of the rock through which the road is carried at its 
highest point of elevation, a white marble tablet is fixed, at the height of 
six or seven feet above the ground, and on it is the following inscription : — 

"Derniere pensee d'un Corse, mourant a 2000 lieues de sa patrie — 

' Ecrivez a nos compatriotes d'ouvrir une route de Pino a Sainte Lucie-sous-Seneque. 

Si l'argent venait a manquer, quelqu'un y pourvoira.' 

23 Decembre, i846."( 1 ) 

A dying thought, it seems to me, better worth commemoration than many 
less unselfish which it has been considered right to preserve. 

A few steps beyond this cutting you come on the wide expanse of the sea 
to the west of Corsica, and I should have liked much to have followed the 
descending road to Pino and other villages, on this side of Cap Corse, 
especially to Pino, having an introductory letter to M. Piccioni the Maire of 
Bastia, who resides there ; but of this time would not allow, and I regret 
extremely to be able to see so little of this Cape, one of the most interesting 
parts of the island. 

From the top of the ascent I now send back Domenico and the trap, and 
following the footpath which leads up from immediately above the tablet 
rock, through aromatic " maquis," to the old Capuchin convent, I continue to 
mount the path, here broken and narrow, to the tower, so-called, of Seneca. ( 2 ) 

densely wooded pieve of Pino, was quite a surprise. Pino has a few chateau-like houses and beautiful 
parks, where a Roman duca would not disdain to dwell. There are millionaires even in Corsica, and 
especially on the Cape, among whom are a few whose wealth has been gained by themselves or their 
relations in the Antilles, Mexico, and Brazil. . . . Above Pino extends the canton Rogliano, 
together with Ersa and Centuri, a district distinguished for its wine, oil, and lemons, and vying with 
Luri in cultivation. The five pievi of the Cape, Brando, Martino, Luri, Rogliano, and Nonza, have in 
all twenty-one communes, and about 19,000 inhabitants. — Gregorovhis, pp. 159, 161. 

Pino, remarkable for its many towers and its fine houses. It is the native place of Piccioni, a man 
who has merited well of humanity, by bequeathing large sums of money to his compatriots for various 
charities, in dowries for young girls who are in poverty, in helps to educational institutions, in opening 
new roads, and in many valuable gifts to his parish church. He died at St. Thomas, in America, but 
his remains have been brought to Pino and buried in a superb tomb. . . Minerbio, a little village of 
the commune of Barettali, and on the road leading to Pino, is surely the happiest corner of the island ; 
no crime, nor any of those implacable hatreds which desolate Corsica, has ever troubled the profound 
calm enjoyed by these peaceable people, who as yet only know the golden age. — Galletti, p. 107. 

(*) [" Last thought of a Corsican, dying at a distance of 2,000 leagues from his country — ' Write to 
our compatriots to open a road from Pino to St. Lucie-sous-Seneque. If money should be wanting, 
somebody will provide it.' 23 December, 1846." This modest tablet, I hear, was placed where it now 
stands by M. Piccioni, the present Maire of Bastia, and relates, I am told, to his father, Signor Piccioni, 
of St. Thomas's in the West Indies. — E. L.] 

(-') This part of the island is full of vague and whimsical traditions of Seneca, exiled to Corsica for 
seven years, on account of his too great intimacy with Julia, daughter of Germanicus, and from which 
he was recalled by Agrippina, &c. The hermit of the convent of S. Nicolas did not fail to show us the 
staircase, the oven, and even the chapel of Seneca, &c. The solidity of construction of the Tower of 
Seneca must be extreme, exposed as it has been to the tempests of centuries ; it was really, under the 
name of Torre de' Moti, one of the forts of the Signori da Mare, famous in the wars of the fifteenth 

May 26. ] 



But after toiling a good way up I abandon the pilgrimage, because a thick 
mist covers the sea, and not a symptom of the shores of Italy can be dis- 
covered ; the coast of Cap Corse is on this side thoroughly wild and rugged, 
but does not seem to me to possess any particular interest ; moreover, I am 
disinclined to encounter any extra fatigue. The latter part of the climb to 
this old tower — so G. informs me, who went to the top — is very steep and 

senega's tower. 

difficult. The building itself, though of early date, does not appear to have 
anything of Roman times in its composition ; rather it has been erected by 
the Pisans, or by the Signori di Mare, who ruled this part of the island about 

century, allied with and natives of Genoa ; but the philosophic title, more popular, has prevailed — 
Valery, L, p. 46. l 

The construction of this edifice seems nevertheless to belong to a less remote epoch, and in no way 
indicates a Roman origin. Whatever it may be, it has always preserved in Corsica the tradition of 
Seneca s stay there, and the name of it is given to the canton. Above the Tower of Seneca is Pinzo- 
Vergme, where are ruins of Dolmens or Druidical ' altars.— Gdtletti, p. 104. 

Seneca, the philosopher, hath left us two most horrid pictures of Corsica, very false indeed, but 


the tenth century. This, theory, however, is treason in the estimation of the 
good people of Luri, who firmly adhere to their opinion that Seneca, the 
philosopher, was shut up in it. <4 My father," said one of the inhabitants of 
the valley to me, " told me that this was told to him by his father, and back 
from father to son for eighteen centuries ; you see, therefore, that the story 
cannot be otherwise than true" — a position I did not attempt to combat. 
What is more to the purpose, so far as a painter is concerned, is that this 
rock and tower of Seneca are most picturesque ; thick groups of ilex grow at 
the base of the pinnacle, and all the upper part of it is a bright bare rock. 
From the very forlorn and ill-kept garden of the Capuchin convent there 

executed with uncommon strength of fancy and expression. . . . He was banished to Corsica, 
where he remained for seven years. . . . Here he indulged his fretted imagination in the following 
epigrams : — 

" O sea-girt Corsica ! whose rude domains 

First owned the culture of Phocsean swains ; 

Cyrnus, since thus the Greeks thy isle express, 

Greater than Ilva, than Sardinia less ; 

O Corsica ! whose winding rivers feed 

Unnumbered, as their sands, the finny breed ; 

O Corsica ! whose raging heats dismay 

When first returning summer pours her ray ! 

Yet fiercer plagues thy scorching shores dispense 

When Sirius sheds her baneful influence ; 

Spare, spare the banished ! spare, since such his doom, 

A wretch, who living, seeks in thee a tomb ! 

Light lay thy earth, in pity to his pains, 

Light lay thy earth upon his sad remains. "—Boswell^ pp. 13, 14. 

Seneca surely lived in one of the Roman colonies, Aleria or Mariana, where the Stoic, accustomed 
to Roman comfort, may have furnished a nice house near the sea, from whence the favourite mullus or 
tunny had no long journey to his dinner-table. 

To the exiled Seneca the island was only a prison to be hated. The little that he says about it in 
his letter of consolation shows how little he knew about it. For instance — "This island is scarce 
fertile enough for the sustenance of its own inhabitants ; it produces nothing desired by other nations." 
— Gregorovhis, p. 166. 

Gregorovius, who has some very amusing chapters about Seneca, gives translations of the two 
epigrams written by or attributed to him during his Corsican exile. 

" Corsican island, thou erst by Phoceean colonists dwelt in, 

Corsica whom they called Cyrnus in language of Greece ; 
Corsica, shorter than great Sardinia, longer than Elba ; 

Corsica, crossed and recrossed by many streams full of fish ; 
Corsica, terrible isle when summer's first heat 'gins to burn us, 

Fiercer yet when his face, Sirius shows in the sky. 
Spare then the exiles — rather the buried already I'd style them — 

O'er poor living men's dust soft be thy covering soil. 

" Barbarous, and by rugged rocks in Corsica guarded ; 
Desert and vast are her fields, barren on every side ; 
No fruits autumn matures, nor corn the summer doth ripen, 

Nor by Pallas' dear gift is the dark winter cheered ; 
Never is spring there blest by the growth of shadowy leafage ; 

Never a plant that will thrive in the poor hapless soil ; 
Here is nor bread nor water, nor life's last boon, even fire, seen ; 
Here is the Banished alone, lone with his Banishment." 

(Jregot ovius, p. 1 70. 

May 26.] VALLEY OF LURI. 207 

are beautiful views from the valley ; but still more so are those from points a 
little below and beyond the monastery. There is something peculiarly finished 
and delicate in the succession of slope after slope, all clothed in green, spread- 
ing away gradually and more faintly, and diminishing into aerial distance, till 
the picture is closed by the sea, with Elba, floating as it were — so pale and 
indistinct is the sea-line — in the filmy atmosphere above it, like Gulliver's 
island of Laputa. (See Plate 32.) 

Walking down the hill, I am hailed by some one who is superintending 
the mending of part of the road, and the agreeable Maire of Luri, M. Tommei, 
joins me. It would have been a pleasure to have accepted his friendly 
invitation to visit him at Poggio in this charming valley, and to have explored 
it more thoroughly with one who knows it so well. M. Tommei thinks that 
the old Lurinum stood below the village of Mercurie, and he points out to me 
some distant old towers (not however, to my thinking) of Roman fabrication, 
which he believes to mark its limits. As we arrived at his village, the Maire 
presses me to have some refreshment at his house, but when I tell him I dare 
not lose a minute of working time, now that the sun is so rapidly mounting, 
and that the great heat and absence of shadow in the valley would soon stop 
my morning's labours, he leaves me with great good breeding to my own 

These consisted in hard work to get such drawings as may recall as much as 
possible the dense vegetation of this lovely valley, and in returning higher up 
the road to make some fresh memoranda, a task as irksome, now that I have 
to look east to a dazzling sun, as that of my western drawing was yesterday 
evening. My foreground might at least have been embellished by the largest 
snake I have seen in the island, and, truth to say, it is one of five I have seen 
in Luri, and of these three were dead, so that it is plain their reputed harm- 
lessness brings them no immunity from persecution. 

After this there only remains the completion of drawings commenced 
yesterday ; and by 10.30 I returned to Madame Cervoni's breakfast, which, 
to-day, in its excellent stewed fowl and ivory white brcccio, shows greater 
research than on the first essay. The Maire and the village doctor came in 
afterwards ; and the landlord brings samples of Cap Corse vintage ; a conver- 
sazione prolongs itself till Flora and C 0, are ready, and I leave these plain and 
friendly people and the happy valley with regret. Before starting I make 
enquiries as to the road in the Balagna near the Ponte dell' Asco, Miss C. 
having very kindly written to me at Bastia warning me that the bridge has 
been carried away by the river ; the doctor says that from Belgodere there is 
a road to Moltifao and thence to Corte without the necessity of passing the 
Asco at the broken bridge, but my host and the Maire doubt if that way be 
practicable for my carriage, light one though it be, and advise me to ascertain 
distinctly well at Belgodere whether it will not be better for me to return to 



[May 26. 



~° ! &K 


M -i> 




Bastia, and thence to Corte -a caution 
to which, after the Bastelica incident of 
May 3rd, I am inclined favourably to 

At 2 P.M. I leave Piazza di Luri, and 
passing through the groves of aged 
white and gray-armed olives, and the rich 
abundance of fig, lemon, and walnut, 
soon arrive at the Marina of Sta. Severa 
by the sea. Far beyond my expecta- 
tions have been the interest and beauty 
of the valley of Luri, and long shall I 
remember its pleasant and industrious 
people, its quiet and shady gardens and 
woody hill slopes, and its lofty tradi- 
tional beacon tower, with its tales of the 
Roman philosopher. 

Very beautiful are some of the 
mouths of the little valleys of Cap Corse 
on such a day as this, the pure emerald 
green water close in shore rippling over 
the milk-white sand ; the mountains 
south of Bastia pearl clear on the 
horizon, and looking seaward — " blue 
were the waters, blue the sky," — to the 
hill of island Elba on the line between 
them. The coast road — red-legged par- 
tridges now and then trot briskly across 
it — is accomplished as far as Brando, 
where again I reject Domenico's sug- 
gestion that the Grotto should be seen, 
and shortly afterwards, sending on the 
trap, I pass an hour, spite of the great 
heat, in making a drawing of the white 
city on its promontory, seen between 
graceful olives bending over the sea. 
By 6.30 I have walked on to Bastia. 
Alas for the exclusive and evanescent 
Moufflon ! After having resided here 
a week, he has gone back to his home 
at Serraggio. 

May 27.] LEAVE BASTIA. 209 


Leave Bastia — Ascent — Gardens — View over the Plain of Biguglia — Range of the Nebbio Hills — Gulf 
of St. Florent — Pass between Rocks — Town of St. Florent — Hotel des Passageurs — Arrival of 
Ironclads — Solitude around St. Florent — Picturesque Houses — Excellent Cheer at M. Donzella's 
Inn — New Beds — Leave St. Florent — Scenery on the North of Corsica — Approach to lie Rousse ; 
its Picturesque Bay and Rocks — Interior of the Town — Hotel De Giovanni — The demure Waitress 
— Leave lie Rousse — Algayola, its deserted appearance— Beautiful Scenery of the Balagna — 
Village of Lumio — Bay of Calvi, and approach to the Town — Legend of the imprudent Bishop — 
Forsaken condition of Calvi ; its Fortifications — Civility of Corsican innkeepers — Calvi the 
Faithful — Neighbourhood of Calenzana. 

May 27, 6 A.M. — Off from the Hotel de France, a very fair inn, with a good 
cook and very obliging master. 

The road to la Balagna ( x ) — the two divisions of which, upper and lower, I 
have just four days to "do" — climbs the steep hill immediately behind Bastia 
as soon as you leave it, and zig-zags among villas and fruit gardens, with a 
view of the city ever at your feet, and more and more of a " bird's-eye " 
nature as you go slowly up the stiff ascent. In many of the gardens I 
remark a profusion of tall white lilies ; cypresses, too, which are not common 
in Corsica ; ( 2 ) and, for the first time in the island, Japan medlars. 

Towards the south, the plain of Mariana and the unhealthy marsh and 
lake of Biguglia are spread out as if in an unrolled map ; no breeze is stirring, 
and looking eastward there is not a single ruffle or ripple on the calm water 
from shore to horizon. So delicately smooth is it, as perfectly to resemble 
the palest blue-gray satin, with a broad and lovely shimmer of light eastward 
of Elba— 

" A light upon the shining sea." 

Higher up, city and cultivation left behind, the now well-known Corsican 

{}) An excellent road first climbs the sides of Monte Bello for a couple of miles. You look down on 
your left into the plain of Biguglia and Furiani, and into the large lagoon into which the river Bevinco 
empties itself. . . . When the summit is reached, the road descends towards the western coast, the 
eastern being lost from sight ; and the enchanting picture of the Gulf of San Fiorenzo suddenly 
opens out before your eyes. . . . This road was laid down by Count Marboeui, and it was here that 
Bernadotte laboured on the roads. — Gregorovius, p. 253. 

The road from Bastia to St. Florent presents such steep inclines and so many curves, that sooner or 
later it will be necessary to rectify it by the valleys of the Bevinco and the Aliso. It is little frequented, 
and the passage of carts meet throughout great difficulties. — Grandchamps, p. 104. 

( 2 ) I saw but few and small cypresses in Corsica, yet they ought to belong particularly to this 
island of death. — Gregorovhis, p. 240. 



world of cystus and " maquis " commences, with here and there groups of ilex 
and gray rocks draped with wild vine, honeysuckle, and purple vetch, with a 
wondrous affluence of vegetable beauty. Still the road — a capital Route 
Imperiale — ascends, and at 7 A.M. and onwards the Casinca hills begin to be 
hidden by the nearer Nebbio range of rounded green heights ; at 8 there is 
a space of level road and a good fountain, and soon afterwards the top of the 
" Bocca " or pass is reached at, I think, about the eleventh kilometre from 
Bastia. Beyond this all Eastern Corsica wholly disappears, and you look 
down on the Gulf of St. Florent^) on the north coast of the island, and on a 
new world of mountains — mountains are never wanting in Corsican land- 
scape ; and nowhere, except in the eastern plain of Aleria and near Bonifacio 
on the west, has the lover of any other kind of view the faintest chance of 
being gratified. 

The descent to the shore is in steep zig-zags, but at every turn of the 
road the scenery becomes more interesting, from the richness of olive growth 

( 1 ) San Fiorenzois an extensive gulf; it runs about fifteen miles up into the country, and is about five 
miles across. . . . There are several creeks and bays, particularly on the south side of it, which are 
quite secure. There is in particular a bay under the tower of Fornali, about two miles from San 
Fiorenzo, which is highly esteemed, and where vessels of considerable burden may be safely stationed. 
— Bo swell, p. 171. 

The Gulf of St. Florent, the safest in Corsica, almost recalls the brilliant beauty of La Spezia. 
Like that, it had attracted the attention of Napoleon, who had entertained a project of fortifying 
St. Florent, and of making it a station for the fleet, and who went so far as to intend making it the 
capital of the island. 

The Nebbio, of which St. Florent was the chief place, was always, since the defeat of the Romans at 
the Col di Tenda, the principal scene of the military events of the island, and the occupation of the 
one has constantly led to the conquest of the other. — Valery, i. , p. 54. 

The situation of San Fiorenzo is so glorious, and the gulf, one of the most beautiful on the 
Mediterranean, so alluring to a more considerable maritime settlement, that, one cannot but wonder at 
its desolation. Napoleon mentions this place, in Antomarchi's " Memoirs." 

On the right the gulf now opened out in its full size, and en the left, far in the background, is the 
high towering amphitheatre of mountains, which descend in a semicircle towards the sea basin. They 
are the proud mountains of Col di Tenda, at the foot of which the Romans of old were defeated by the 
Corsicans. They surmount the district called Nebbio, which encompasses the gulf of San Fiorenzo, 
and open out only towards that district. From the earliest times the Nebbio was regarded as a natural 
fortress ; wherefore all conquerors, from the Romans to the French, have endeavoured to force an 
entrance into it and gain a firm footing in it, and innumerable battles have been fought there. The 
Nebbio, at the present day, contains four cantons or pieves, San Fiorenzo, Oletta, Murato, and San Pietro 
di Tenda. 

According to Ptolemy, the ancient town of Cersunum must have stood somewhere on the gulf. In 
the middle ages the considerable town of Nebbio was situated here, whose ruins are half a mile distant 
from the present San Fiorenzo. The town decayed, like other considerable towns and bishoprics in 
Corsica, Accia, Sagano, &c. — Gregorovius, pp. 254, 255. 

The ports in Corsica, numerous on the west side, are three only on the east. Those nearest to 
France are at the head of the gulfs of St. Florent, Calvi, Sagona, and Ajaccio. Their security is not 
complete, and in some of them vessels are in danger when the south-eastern winds blow with violence. 
— Grandchamps, p. 82. 

[See M. Grandchamps for details about improvements at Fornali, the true port of St. Florent. — E. L.] 

On the northern shore of the gulf (of St. Florent) are two or three villages, of which the principal is 
Nonza. This is properly the key of Cape Corso ; because from the Cape into the interior parts of the 
island on the western side, there is only one pass, and that leads through this place. ■ — Boswcll, p. 26. 

Nonza, on an inaccessible rock by the sea-side. — Galletti, i., p. 109. 


— the trees now loaded with blossom — and other fruit trees, and from the 
gradually widening prospect of " mountain and of cape " northward to Cap 
Corse, along the south-west corner of which the road to St. Florent in this 
upper part of its course may be said to be traced. Three or four villages, the 
most conspicuous of which is Patrimonio, are in sight, among slopes of green 
and olives in this cheerful landscape. 

9 A.M., at the seventeenth kilometre from Bastia, the road being now 
nearly level with the shore and passing through a broad green vale and 
scattered olives, turns westward to the mountains which here descend to 
the sea, leaving only a narrow pass through a rocky screen — the natural 
boundary on this side of the once warlike canton of Nebbio.( r ) This pass of 
picturesquely overhanging rocks, with immense hollows or caves below them, 
is very fine ; the dark openings of their gloomy recesses are perfectly fitted 
for backgrounds of " brigand subjects " and remind me of the great caverns 
near Eleutheropolis on the road from Gaza to Jerusalem, and by their colour 
and striped surface, of several similar grottoes near Corpo di Cava of Naples. 
In face of these caves — where the oleander grows abundantly by a slow 
streamlet — I halt to draw until 10, and then drive on to St. Florent, which is 
but a short way beyond this striking rock barrier. 

The town of St. Florent ( 2 ) appears even smaller than I expected, consider- 

(*) Marmocchi calls the Nebbio a province full of mountains and steep hills, which description 
infuriates the Abbe Galletti, who declares that the geographer never was there, but allowed himself to 
write after the dictation of an eccentric man, who led him into gross errors. — Galletti, p. ill. 

[See Forester, p. 92, for remarks and details, well worth reading, of a journey through Nebbio, of 
the beauty of the woods, and of the cultivation in that district, which I regret I could not visit. 
— E. L.] 

( 2 ) St. Florent, well placed at the entrance of a fertile valley, has but 400 inhabitants ; it owes 

this to putrid and malignant fevers produced by the lagoon The land is excellent, 

and the cultivation of both cotton and sugar-cane has been tried with success in the vicinity. 
The difficulty of the paths from St. Florent to lie Rousse obliged me to go thither by sea. — 
Valery, i., pp. 55 — 62. 

Half a mile from St. Florent stands the gothic cathedral of Ste. Marie de l'Assomption, not of 
large size, built of Corsican Travertine Filippini records that a bell was found in the old 
Campanile bearing the date 700, the epoch of the Lombard rule. This church, as well as the adjoining 
rums of the old episcopal palace, resemble at a distance a real fortress. Such an appearance, however, 
is quite in harmony with the qualities and prerogatives of those bishops of Nebbio, who took the title 
of Counts, wore a sword in the assemblies of state, and had two pistols on the altar when they said 

mass. The church may occupy the site of the ancient town Cersunum ; excavations 

made in the neighbourhood have brought to light numerous Roman funeral monuments, dating per- 
haps as far back as the defeat of the Consul Papirius by the Corsicans at the Col di Tenda. — 
Valery, i., p. 56. 

Siege of St. Florent by Nelson in 1793. — Forester. 

San Fiorenzo was one of the first Corsican places that gave themselves to the Bank of Genoa in 
14S3. — Gregorovius, p. 255. 

[The journey of Gregorovius along this coast is full of interest, and exactly descriptive of the scenery 
as well as of the habits of Corsican life in 1852. "On the whole journey I saw not a single conveyance. 
Now and then came a Corsican on horseback, with his double gun slung over his shoulders, and 
an umbrella over his head." "Here," he grimly adds, "they shoot a great many wild pigeons 
and men." — P. 257.] 

I had been received at the house of M. Gentili, nephew of the General, and allied through his wife 

O 2 


ing how important a part it has always played in Corsican history, and looks 
almost too tiny (it has but 750 inhabitants) to have had any history at all. 
Its one short and narrow street leads to a little Piazza, where there is a 
little country inn — already favourably known to me by Miss C.'s report — 
and quite delightful for cleanliness and comfort ; this is the " Hotel des Pas- 
sageurs," kept by Pietro Giuseppe Donzella, and, like other inns I have had 
occasion to mention, is a most strange contrast for its excellence to those in 
some of the larger towns. 

A short glance at St. Florent, which stands quite at the water's edge, and 
is backed by what may be called fortified heights, though of no great eleva- 
tion, shows me that whatever work there may be for the pencil here will all 
lie in the direction of the farther side of the gulf, and that the one day I 
have allotted for this part of the island will abundantly suffice for all I 
require. M. Donzella provides at noon a capital breakfast ; his inn contains 
several rooms besides those allotted to me, all clean and decent, the walls 
newly whitewashed, and profusely hung with little prints, several of them 
views of Naples, Vesuvius, &c. 

Meanwhile this small place has been, since my arrival, a prey to amaze- 
ment and curiosity, by reason of a war steamer which has suddenly appeared, 
and having steamed as far as nearly opposite St. Florent, has gone back and 
disappeared behind the point on the west side of the gulf, making no sign. 
But at noon she returns, in company with the squadron of French ironclads, 
which in all the fulness of power and ugliness, are ranged opposite the town, 
and boats soon coming off, these events communicate to St. Florent as much 
agitation and life as it is perhaps capable of receiving. 

to Paoli. I remarked in the parlour a contemporary portrait of the latter of a much nobler expression 
of countenance than the ordinary lithograph possesses. — Valery, i., p. 57- 

St. Florent, a small town, and the least important in the island (if even it can be called a town), 
has always been witness to the most important political facts. The Gulf of St. Florent has ever been 
the point of embarkation for new conquerors of Corsica. It was the first Corsican town which, in 1483, 
gave itself to the Bank of St. George in Genoa. — Galletti, p. 112. 

Although the Gulf of St. Florent is one of the most vast of Corsica, the town has no port. 
The safest anchorage of the gulf is at Fornali, and there is only a mole or quay at St. Florent. 
This town was very recently surrounded by marshes, and its population was decimated by fevers. 

The works of drainage undertaken some years ago have lessened these evils, 

though they are not completely extinct. The commercial importance of St. Florent should 
not be exaggerated, for the town being separated from the centre of Corsica by a chain of mountains, 
the lowest part of which is 1,200 metres above the sea, the produce of the interior cannot be 

economically transported In a military point of view the Gulf of St. Florent is of the 

greatest importance. 

This town (St. Florent), founded in 1440, gave itself to Paul deThermes in 1553, and was recognised 
by Andrea Doria in 1554. In 1731 Giaffori and Ceccaldi took possession of it; in 1762 Paoli took 
it ; and in 1794 the French sustained a remarkable siege against the Anglo-Paolists. In 1796 it fell 
again into the power of the French. "The situation of St. Florent (said Napoleon I.) is one of 
the finest possible, close to France, and not far from Italy ; her coasts are safe, commodious, and might 
receive considerable fleets. I should have made a great and fine town, which should have been 
a capital ; I should have declared it a fortress, and there should have been constantly vessels stationed 
there." — Grandchamps, pp. 16, 17. 


It was 2 P.M. before I went out to draw; the heat was great, and the 
environs of St. Florent shadeless. A more compact little gulf can hardly be 
imagined than this, nor one more tranquilly shut out from the world ; formerly 
the capital of the Nebbio district, it can only be approached by sea, or by 
crossing mountain passes ; and on realising its position, the old conditions of 
its existence, when ironclads and high roads were unknown, can easily be 
understood — days when the Bishops of Nebbio used to read mass sword in 
hand. And were any one desirous of living a life of great retirement and 
quiet (barring the near and head-splitting sound of church bells), St. Florent 
might be well recommended as a fit place, especially that its little hotel is so 
good — always supposing that the winter climate is a pleasant one, about 
which I have my doubts, as this side of the gulf is not a little exposed to 
the north-west winds. 

A feeling of extreme loneliness pervades the neighbourhood of the town ; 
extensive shallows teeming with myriads of fish, and wide marshes, com- 
municate a desolate air to the place, though much of the marshy ground has 
been drained of late years. The ugly iron ships alone break the spell of 
solitude which seems to hang over sea and land ; excepting that below the 
eastern hills is a hamlet and an ancient church, formerly the Cathedral of 
Nebbio, which I had intended, but had not time to visit. Of course (see rules 
of destiny, page 169) the only possible spot whence it was practicable to make 
a drawing of the town and gulf was on a roastingly bare slope of tilled ground, 
which I contemplated with dread, although preparing to sacrifice myself to 
an hour's broiling; but on arriving there, I found the Suliot had placed my 
folio and seat high up below a single lentisk (or schinos) tree of great size, 
which for the sake of its shade was worth a stiff climb to reach over some rocks 
— G. meanwhile, who, remembering how Admiral Yelverton at Malta used to 
take his ironclads to fire at the rock of Silsifla, continually pretends to forbode 
that the French admiral may suddenly happen to order this big lentisk tree 
to become the mark for all his squadron to shoot at. No such calamity, 
however, occurs, and I am able to complete my drawing of a place singularly 
full of individual character and beauty. {See Plate 33.) 

At 5 P.M., returning towards the town, I work again near it ; the houses 
of St. Florent are not a la domino-warehouse, but are aged, irregular, pic- 
turesquely gray, and discoloured, and many beautiful little bits may be 
gathered on the edges of the tiny city, reflected clearly in the water from 
which it rises. 

At the Hotel des Passageurs, lobster-eating and other festivities are being 
carried out on a large scale by the sailors of the squadron ; but though the 
house is quite full, that does not prevent M. Donzella giving me a good dinner 
of soup and stewed veal, pease, cutlets, and olives, cream-cheese (broccio 
is out of season or does not exist hereabouts), and the Chablis-like wine of 


these parts, as good as the cookery. My host, who is so like a Neapolitan 
in dialect and manner, that, coupled with the many views of Vesuvius in his 
rooms, I made sure of his being so, is, on the contrary, so completely a 
Corsican, that he has never been as far as Calvi, or even out of the Nebbio 
farther than lie Rousse, of which he says, "C'est plus belle que Calvi, mais 
a Calvi il y a plus de seigneurie — lie Rousse is prettier, but Calvi more 
1 genteel.'" 

My sleeping-room looks out on the sea, now " a sheet of summer glass," 
with the line of great ships dark against the last gleaming of the pale western 
sky. So clean is this house, that for a second time in this journey I shall try 
the hotel bed instead of my own. The past day has been a thoroughly 
pleasant one, and now there remain but nine more of Corsican wanderings. 

May 28. — There is little wisdom in trying new beds if you can avoid doing 
so ; this one is perfectly clean, as was that of Luri, but each had its pecu- 
liarities, arising from some springs or wires of its inner constitution, which 
led it to make noises of the most surprising and unexpected kind ; it was 
impossible to prepare the mind sufficiently for the sudden sounds which 
occurred even on your moving your head, far more when it was a question of 
"turning round." At Luri a spring in the mattrass was loose, and at times 
made a most remarkable humming ; while in the present instance lengthened 
and mouse-like squeakinesses come from some incoherence of the irons ; as the 
invalid says in Wilkie Collins's " Woman in White," " Take it away, something 
about it creaks ; take it away ! " and henceforth, therefore, I forsake not the old 
camp folding-bed. For all that, I must record that a nicer little inn, with more 
obliging owner and better fare, it would be hard to fall in with, in whatever 
part of the world you may travel, than the Hotel des Passageurs, at St. 

At sunrise the gulf resounds with a reveille of bugles, and a single gun 
from the eight ironclads : the squadron goes to Bastia to-day. At 5.30 A.M. I set 
off to lie Rousse with Flora and C°" ; the first part of the day's journey is to 
wind round and across the sides of Monte Ruva, the spurs of which form the 
western side of the Gulf of St. Florent, and separate Nebbio from Balagna- 
We leave on the left the road to Oletta, by the direction of the only human 
being in sight, an old woman whom Domenico, with scrupulous politeness, 
addresses as " Madame," and then leaving the coast, ascend the hill by what 
the landlord at St. Florent calls a " salituccia," along a broad Route Imperiale. 
The view of the gulf and the little city are very beautiful from here ; an 
extremely simple prospect — St. Florent and the whole of Cap Corse, un- 
broken by detail, like a single piece of opal, lie reflected in the calm trans- 
parent bay, and this view, spite of the dazzling opposite sun, claims a halt 
for drawing. (See Plate 34.) 

May 28.] THE ROAD TO lLE ROUSSE. 21 5 

6.15 A.M. — For some way onward the ascent overlooks portions of the 
inner land of Nebbio — rounded mountainous distances and a good deal of 
cultivation ; then, threading a lonely and narrow pass by the side of a 
ravine thickly clothed with underwood, the road leads along tracts of wild 
country, where once more cystus and asphodel still in" bloom, isolated granite 
rocks and wild olive, are the characteristics of the scenery, and a feeling that 
one is in a wild unpeopled part of the world prevails, till at 7 A.M., a landscape 
of more cheerful character is approached, looking towards the St. Florent 
gulf, with beautiful views of Cap Corse, beyond slopes of pastures and innu- 
merable olives down to the sea. This scenery, charming in colour and varied 
in outline, is greatly like that about Girgenti in Sicily, and to get some 
memorandum of it, a halt is ordered till 7.45. (') 

Here and there, though seldom, a wayside house is passed, and for another 
hour wild " maquis " and rock are the only ingredients in the landscape, as the 
road, gradually ascending, skirts a vast and savage hollow or amphitheatre, 
walled in on the south by lofty bare rocks. This rugged scenery, without 
culture or inhabitants, continues till about 9 A.M., when the top of the ascent 
is reached and the views east towards the Nebbio and the long line of Cap 
Corse are exchanged for a truly magnificent panorama of snowy mountains, 
the great heights above the Balagna and the district of Calvi. 

From this point the road rapidly descends in zig-zags to the foot of the hills 
which divide Nebbio and Balagna, and in half an hour the small plain through 
which the stream of the Ostricone( 2 ) flows is reached, and here, at 9.30, after 
passing a few more scattered houses, is the mid-day halt to be made. Neither 
for horse or man, for landscape or for shade, is this a favourable spot ; there is 
a fountain close by, but it is dry; a very meagre olive gives but little 
shelter from the great heat, and even that little is not wanted long, because a 
colony of ants make the ground below it an undesirable place of repose. On 
all sides there is a total lack of pretty landscape, and only a few birds give 
any interest to the locality by their voices, the quit-quit-quit of quails in 
the corn-field near, the turtle dove's note, and that of the cuckoo. Breakfast, 
therefore, is, on the whole, uncomfortable, and in half an hour after noon the 
journey towards lie Rousse is gladly resumed. 

(') There are exquisite descriptions of the villages and scenery near lie Rousse in Gregorovius ; the 
dreadful tragedy relating to Vittoria Pietri, wife of Muzio Malespino, which had occurred so lately 
as 1849, is told in it — a shocking history, from which it is a relief to turn to the description of the 
merry children of Isola Rossa dancing in a ring round a fire, and improvising. 

"Amo un presidente 
Sta in letto senza dente, &c, &c." — Gregorovius, pp. 258, 261, 266. 

( z ) At Ostriconi it is believed the ancient Rhopicum of Ptolemy stood, at a point where there is still 
an old tower in ruins, on the left bank of the torrent, and at its mouth there are said to be others. 
The air of this valley is unhealthy. The torrent of Ostriconi, which takes its source on Mount Tenda, 
is the boundary between the provinces of Nebbio and Balagna, and between the arrondissements of 
Bastia and Calvi. — Galietti, p. 117. 


In passing along this northern coast of Corsica, how clearly once more is 
the history of the island commented on and explained by these distinct natural 
divisions ! — this district of Balagna is as much cut off from Nebbio, as Spain 
from France, or Switzerland from Italy, by mountain ranges. The road, now 
comparatively level (with good parapets, as, indeed, there have been through 
all to-day's journey), leads close along the shore, and wonderfully lovely is the 
pale blue, merging into green of the sea below — moveless, oily-calm lengths 
of bright sapphire, traced on the space of far dark blue — " cobalt," says the 
practical artist, " with pale passages spunged or washed out, or dragged light 
with a half-wet brush." And after passing increasing cultivation, especially of 
larger and more numerous olive grounds, and more long points — I had fancied 
this part of Corsica might be rounded, but there is only the long eastern plain 


in all this island that is not beset by points — He Rousse is seen afar off, low 
down at the very edge of the sea on a slender rocky promontory. Arriving 
nearer to the town, I send on Flora and C ', and at 2 stop to draw what 
might well be called Paoliopolis, for the place owes its creation to General 
Paoli, and hardly existed before i76o.( 1 ) (See Plate 35.) 

At 3 P.M. I make a drawing on the beach — whence the town, though not 

(*) Isola Rossa is but a little harbour, but has a considerable depth of water, and is defended by a 
small island against the westerly winds. They talk of erecting a mole to lock it in on every quarter. — 
Boswell, p. 17. 

lie Rousse, a place of merchant and custom-house officials, was commenced in 1758 by Paoli, in 
spite of the endeavours by sea and land on the part of the Genoese to hinder the work. This pretty 
little town, built to the sound of cannon, received its name from the islet of reddish rock opposite. Paoli 
wished to attract the mountain population of this part of the island to the seaboard, in order to take 
vengeance on Algajola, which was devoted to the cause of the Genoese, and at the same time to 
destroy the influence of Calvi, equally on their side. It is said that on seeing the first houses 
being built, Paoli observed, "I have planted the gallows on which to hang Calvi." lie Rousse, 
which counts a population of 1,200, is in effect the outlet for the produce of the Balagna; and the 
export of oil to France is to the amount of a million of francs annually, half of the whole export of 
Corsica. — Valery, i., p. 66. 

The nearer you come to Isola Rossa the more mighty are the mountains ; they are the romantic 
peaks of the Balagna, the Corsican promised land, which flows in truth with oil and honey. — 

The town of lie Rousse has its name from a neighbouring islet of a reddish colour. This little isle, 
called formerly l'lle de l'Or, was the haunt of pirates. When the Genoese became possessors of all 
Corsica, they fortified .this island, and united it to the nearest mainland by means of a jetty, and thus 
delivered this fine district from the frequent incursions of the barbaresques. — Galletti, p. 117. 

Nothing is more wanted in Corsica than a railway between the ports of lie Rousse, Bastia, and 
Porto Vecchio, whereby the ports on the coasts may be united by a rapid and easy communication. — 
Grandchamps, p. 107. 

The Genoese came with gun-boats to interrupt the work, but the walls rose amidst the rain of their 
shot, and Isola Rossa is now a place of 1,860 inhabitants, and the important port and emporium of the 
oil-raising Balagna. — Gregorovius, p. 257. 

There is the house where Paoli was surprised when the celebrated Dumouriez had contrived a plot 
against him ; and here Theodore of Neuhoff, King of the Corsicans, landed for the last time, and put 
to sea again when his dream of royalty was over. — Gregorovius, p. 260. 

lie Rousse is the natural outlet of Balagna.' This town, founded by Paoli, has increased remark- 
ably in a short time ; new houses have been built there, and foreign capital has been attracted ; the 
port, which offered good anchorage, has been improved, and at present it is the most convenient on the 
west coast. Trade, both in imports and exports, augments yearly, an increase explained by the situation 


in itself possessing any beauty of detail, combines on the whole very pic- 
turesquely with its rocky harbour, and the foreground of masses of black 
granite scattered on the white sandy beach ; the duties of the day, also, are 
varied by a pleasant bathe, for it is not often that hard white sand, gleaming 
below clear and not too deep water, presents so favourable an opportunity to 
any one who is ignorant of swimming. Then onward to the town. 

lie Rousse possesses several large and substantial houses, especially some 
in the outskirts, near a Piazza where there are some fountains — one orna- 
mented with a bust of Paoli. There is a colonnade-bordered market-place, 
and a broad, well-paved street, and altogether the little town shows more 
activity and importance than I had been aware existed in Balagna, except in 
Calvi. The country immediately in the neighbourhood is full of olive slopes — 

" realms of upland prodigal of oil, 

And hoary to the wind" — 

and on the hills inland are many villages, Monticelli, Santa Reparata, &c, 
giving much life to the landscape, which is completed by a glorious serrated 
snow-topped mountain range far above all. A painter lingering some time at 
lie Rousse would find that many delightful excursions might be made to the 
hills on the south of it, but none such are practicable for me, the limited time 
now at my disposal obliging me to adhere to the coast road. 

So I ramble through the town and on to the pier, beyond which there are 
works in progress connected with a small fort — for there is a little garrison at 
lie Rousse — but finding no work to do in the city of Pasquale Paoli, I go to 
the Hotel De Giovanni, to which the landlord at St. Florent had directed me. 
The inn is large, and in an airy situation, and the rooms are clean, though not 
as much so as at the last place ; as for the people, it is the same thing every- 
where — simple in manner and thoroughly obliging ; anxious to please the 
traveller, yet free from compliment and servility. 

At 6.30 dinner was ready, served by a brisk damsel of no pretensions to 

of He Rousse on that point of the western coast nearest to Marseilles. The French influence in Corsica 
would be far greater if an easy means of communication existed between this town and the east coast, 
but, unfortunately, the road from lie Rousse to Corte and to Bastia climbs the transversal chain at the 
Col S. Colombano, 730 metres above the sea. This may be avoided by a road, as before named, by 
the valley of Ostriconi and the Col de Pietralba, not more than 470 metres. This ; s the lowest point of 
all the transverse range of mountains, and the only one by which it is possible to establish easy and 
rapid communication between lie Rousse and the east coast, that is to say, between France, the centre 
of Corsica, and southern Italy. — Grandc/iamps, pp. 18, 19. 

In 1760 only a tower built by the Genoese existed at the Port of lie Rousse ; in 1810, a small mole 
of embarcation, twenty-seven metres long, and later of fifty metres, was constructed. [For details 
respecting the possibility of making a larger port, and one which would be the best for the extension 
of commerce into France, and for others concerning a proposed railway from lie Rousse, by the sea, 
to the mouth of the Ostriconi, up the valley of the Ostriconi, as far as the Col or Bocca Santa Maria 
(470 metres above the sea, where a tunnel 1,200 metres long would reduce that height 70 metres), and 
then descend to Ponte - alia - Leccia by the left bank of the Golo, and thence by the gorges of the 
Golo to its outlet on the eastern coast ; there, dividing, it would go along the plain, north to Bastia, 
and south to Porto Vecchio, see Grandchamps, pp. 86, no.] 



[May 29. 

beauty, but with a look of espikglerie 
and intelligence ; always she held a 
flower in her mouth ; at the beginning 
of dinner it was a rose, latterly a pink. 
She waited also at a table where seven 
or eight " continentals" — employes — 
were dining. The dinner was good 
and some Balagna cherries and cheese 

Later, when the damsel — who 
greatly resembled a lady on a Ja- 
panese teacup — brought some coffee, 
I said, " May I venture to ask, 
without offence, why you continually 
carry a flower in your mouth ? " 
" And," retorted the Japanese, " may 
I venture to ask, without offence, why 
you, a stranger, inquire about matters 
which are not your affairs, but mine ?" 
" Perdoni," said I, " do not be angry ; 
I only had an idea that there might 
be a meaning in your doing so." 
Quoth she, " Che cosa potrebbe mai 
'significare ? — what could it possibly 
mean ?" " I thought," said I, humbly, 
" it might mean you were not to be 
spoken to ; for how, with a flower in 
your mouth, could you answer ? " 
Whereat the Corsican gravity gave 
way, and the hotel resounded with 
long peals of laughter from the 

May 29, 5.30 A.M. — Flora and O 
are ready to start from the Hotel 
De Giovanni, which will be remem- 
bered as very comfortable ; not only, 
however, are the high mountains 
clouded, but some rain falls, and a 
wet day is threatened. lie Rousse 
has a look of being larger than it 
need be for its population— its Piazza 

May 29.] ALGAYOLA. 219 

is grass-grown in parts, and the houses on its outskirts are scattered about 
rather vaguely ; yet it is said to be a flourishing and increasing place. The 
outlines of the hills in its neighbourhood are varied and pleasing, while the 
long lines of Cap Corse and the hills forming the western side of the Gulf 
of St. Florent, shut in the sea like a lake ; and did it possess any buildings 
of a shapely form, a pretty picture might be made of lie Rousse from the 
high ground to the west of it. 

The road to Calvi runs coastwise along hill sides entirely covered with 
corn and olives — these last are in thick groves, large and full trees loaded with 
bloom, down to the sea-shore ; great masses of gray granite cropping out of the 
soil here and there. The scenery is full of beauty, even on a day so gloomy 
as this continues to be ; Corbara and other villages are seen on the hills ; and 
when the clouds are propitious, snow peeps out on the higher mountains ; 
everywhere there is a richness of cultivation exceptional in Corsica.^) 

About the seventh kilometre from tie Rousse is a small bay, on the shore 
of which stands a town or village almost all in ruins ; fallen and falling walls, 
and roofless houses, make the few buildings which are still habitable — perhaps 
a score or two in number — more melancholy by contrast. This sad place, 
which has an air of having seen better days, is indeed no other than Alga- 
yola,( 2 ) a town of importance under the rule of the Genoese, but deserted 

(') Monticello contains about 800 inhabitants. In the house of M. Pietri, whose first wife is grand- 
daughter of Clement Paoli, is a new portrait of the General Pasquale Paoli. M. Pietri also possesses 
the seal of that illustrious man, like a pound weight, made of iron, &c. 

Above Monticello, at Capo Spinello, are the slight remains of the fortress built by Guidice, of 
the noble Corsican family Cinarca, brought up in Italy, and named Governor of the island by the 
Pisans in 1280, a man of lofty character, just, conscientious, and indefatigable. After having for fifty 
years held his ground against the Genoese, he was, when old and blind, betrayed into a nocturnal 
ambush. He died at ninety-one in the prison of Malapaga at Genoa. The few remains of the fort of 
Guidice attest the ravages of the Genoese, who destroyed the greater part of the castles of Corsica, in 
order to efface its memories and its nationality. It is easy to understand the hatred such a rule must 
have excited, and how, after more than sixty years, the name of Genoese is still considered an injury by 
the people. — Valery, i., p. 74. 

On the territory of Corbara, at a spot called Bareale, the coast is strewn with blocks of a superb 
granite called, but wrongly, of Algayola, of which I have seen the first utilisation for the sub-basement 
of the column in the Place Vendome. (Bareale also supplies the beautiful jasper with the green marble 
of Corsica, so admired in the chapel of the Medicis of Florence. ) The working of this beautiful white 
monumental granite on the edge of the sea, which seems to invite its transport, might be immensely 
developed, and might give rise to a colony of workmen, as at Carrara, who might create a lucrative 
and permanent industry for Corsica. — Valery, i., p. 69. 

From Corbara, one of the prettiest villages of Corsica, came the Doctor Daniele, called to France 
by Louis XIII. , to whom he became physician. M. Valery gives a list of eminent medical men, 
natives of Corsica — Salicetti, Sisco, Franceschi, and Prela, the learned Jean de Vico, physician of 
Julius II., and the Doctors Antomarchi ; which, he says, seems to prove that the art of curing is natural 
to the Corsicans. Some also of the most celebrated men of the island have studied medicine, such as 
Giafferi, and Hyacinthe Paoli, as well as the learned historian Limperani of Orezza, Bernardin Cristini, 
&c. — Valery, i., p. 68. 

Monticello, the scene of the tragic history mentioned in Gregorovius, is named in Galletti, p. 119. 

( 2 ) Algajola is almost abandoned since the foundation of lie Rousse. Its appearance is singularly 
melancholy, and one seems to be in a town taken by assault, and from which the inhabitants have 
disappeared. In the middle of these ruins there exists, over the chief altar of the Church of St. George, 


towards the end of the last century, owing chiefly to the rise of lie Rousse, 
and to the fact that Calvi, during the wars of the patriot party, was a better 
place of refuge. Rain prevented my making as complete a drawing as I could 
have wished of the now forlorn but picturesque condition of Algayola. 

Fortunately for me, after some heavy showers, the weather became brilliant 
once more, in good time to array in its fullest beauty what is doubtless 
one of the finest portions of Corsican scenery, and not a little Sicilian in 
character, the drive from the ruined and dreary Algayola to Calvi, the long 
cape and light-house near which are now visible. A succession of pictures of 
exquisite interest delights the eye as the road passes along new basins or 
crescents at the foot of high hills, bare at their tops, then terraced into corn- 
fields all the way down from those rocky heights to the shore ; the grain all 
ripe, and the fields full of busy reapers, dotted with grand old olive trees, 
standing, not in continuous groves, but singly, or in massive and picturesque 
groups, some of the trees being quite the finest I have seen in the island^ 1 ) 

a "Descent from the Cross," attributed to Guercino, and said to be the best picture in Corsica. — Valery, 
i., p. 71. 

Speaking of the industrious habits of the Corsican fishermen in general, M. Valery excepts those ot 
the pescatori of Algajola, where, M. De Beaumont reports, in a town on the sea-shore, and in his own 
former sub-prefecture of Calvi, there is not a single fisherman, and the inhabitants wait, with their arms 
folded, until a Neapolitan boat arrives to fish along their own coast, and sell them their own fish. 
Nevertheless, the sea around the island has been thought more productive of fish than any part of the 
Mediterranean. — Valery, i. , p. 33. 

The road from Isola Rossa to Calvi leads along the coast all the way. On the mountains are seen 
many ruins of places destroyed by the Saracens, and above Monticello are the ruins of a castle of the 

celebrated Guidice della Rocca, the Pisa lieutenant I came first through Algayola, an old 

place by the sea, now quite decayed, and numbering scarcely 200 inhabitants. Many houses stand in 
ruins and uninhabited, .... for they have been allowed to stand as ruins till the present day in 
the state that the war reduced them to sixty years ago, a sad and palpable witness of the condition of 

Corsica. Even the inhabited houses are like blackened ruins In the time of the Genoese, 

Algayola was the central place of the Balagna. — Gregorovhis, p. 268. 

Algajola, anciently the chief place of civil government in the Balagna, and situated on one of the 
most healthy points of the island seaboard, is a little town now containing less than 200 inhabitants, 
and, in our day, only presents a heap of ruins to the traveller's search ; thus realising the prediction 
of General Paoli when he founded the lie Rousse, " I am going to plant the gallows for Calvi and 
Algajola." Into the latter place he had not been able to force an entrance, as it was surrounded by 
walls and bastions, and well defended by the Genoese. At present the name of Algajola, which has 
played so important a part in the political vicissitudes of the island, is only known in Corsica by an old 
proverb still used in our villages, when any one wishes to describe a person given to laziness and love 
of "dolce far niente. " "Pare de' quattro dell' Algajola — he is like the four of Algajola." These 
were the members of the four principal families of the place, who, wrapped in their cloaks, used to sit 
at the gate of their city gossiping on all the news of the day with the peasants who passed to and fro. — 
Galletti, p. 121. 

(') The provinces of Balagna and Nebbio, which are very rich, and afford an agreeable prospect, 
particularly Balagna, which may be called the garden of Corsica, being highly favoured by nature, and 
having also had in a superior degree the advantages of cultivation.— Bosivell, p. 25. 

The appearance of the district of the Balagna, with its vegetation of olive, orange, and pomegranate, 
has a charming effect as one quits the harsh mountains of Nebbio. Its inhabitants know well how to 
cultivate their lands, nor do they call to their aid, as do the rest of their countrymen, the sober and 
laborious Lucchesi, who bear away the gold of Corsica. — Valery, i., p. 65. 

. . . The valley of the Balagna is called the garden of Corsica. It is enclosed by mountains, 
whose tops reach the clouds, snowy peaks like the Tolo and the mighty G rosso, and eminences oi 


Farther on a ruined castle crowns one of the highest points, as you continue 
to drive through this beautiful scenery, with the wide sea ever on your right 
hand, until after leaving the coast by an ascent of short duration, the road 
comes suddenly in full view of the bay of Calvi, that town and citadel on its 
farther side shining out like a gem above the purple water, by the side of a 
plain running up to the foot of magnificent mountain ranges, some of them 
the highest in Corsica. Assuredly the Genoese were wise to cling so long 
and so fondly to this, as it seems to me, fairest part of the island. 

Perhaps even the landscape becomes still finer as you turn the sharp corner 
of the high point you have been ascending (about the tenth kilometre from 
Calvi), and come down towards the large valleys, which from the coast stretch 
away to Calenzana and the base of Monte Cinto and the great central 
Corsican Alps. Few more striking and beautiful places can be seen than 
Lumio,( l ) close below which the road now runs— a large village with white and 

the grandest forms, which would enchant a landscape painter. On the mountain sides are very- 
numerous hamlets .... all former abodes of the nobility and caporali, and full of reminiscences 
of old times. The Tuscan Marquises of Malaspina, who were natives of Massa and the marches 

of Lunigiano, ruled here of old The Malaspinas built the village of Speloncato, in the 

Balagna. — Gregorovius, p. 313. 

The Balagna, separated from the Nebbio by the secondary ramifications of the chain of the Tenda, 
is the richest province of Corsica ; it includes the valleys of Ostriconi, Regino, Aregno, Fium-Secco, 
and Marsolino. The slopes of the Ostriconi, the Regino, and Aregno are covered with magnificent 
olives, and everywhere picturesque villages, well-built houses, and well-cultivated land denote the ease 
and love of labour of the inhabitants. — Grandchamps, p. 18. 

The Corsican olive tree, according to the illustrious Humboldt, is, more than any other, capable of 
resisting the intemperance of the elements ; as, for instance, during the memorable and terrible winter of 
1709, when nearly all the olive trees of the south of France were destroyed, those of Corsica did not 
suffer. — Valery, i., p. 75. 

It is asserted (says Gregorovius of the Balagna olive trees) that there is no place in Italy where the 
olive tree reaches such huge dimensions as in the Balagna. Its growth, its fulness of branches, and the 
abundance of its fruit, are perfectly astonishing. . . . There are many kinds of olives in the 
Balagna, the Sabinacci, Saraceni, and Genovesi, so called according to their pedigree, like noble 
families of Signori. The third kind is most frequent ; it is ascribed to the Genoese, who, under the 
rule of Agostino Doria, compelled the Corsicans to plant the olive abundantly. ... At what 
period the olive was generally introduced into Corsica I cannot say. In Seneca's epigram, complaint is 
made that the gift of Pallas is not to be found in the island ; nevertheless, it seems to me scarcely 
credible that the olive was not cultivated in Corsica before Seneca's time. The Corsican olive trees 
enjoy the reputation of defying the changes of the seasons more boldly than all others in the world, a 
praise which the great Humboldt has bestowed upon them. . . . When the olives begin to fall off 
they are collected. Twenty pounds of olives yield five pounds of clear oil, which is put into large stone 
jugs, in which it stands till the month of May ; the trees produce abundantly every third year. The 
birds come and scatter the olive seeds, and thus the island is covered with wild olive bushes, growing 
green and rank over hill and dale, and only waiting for improvement by cultivation. ... At the 
present day the richest oil-lands of Corsica are the Balagna, the Nebbio, and the region of Bonifacio. — 
Gregorovius, p. 316. 

(*) Lumio, finely placed, produces a fine rock crystal, orange gardens, and formidable hedges of 
cactus. — Valery, i., p. 80. 

Lumio possesses many orange orchards, and an astonishing number of cactus hedges, which I only 
found besides in Ajaccio in such profusion. The cactus here grows to the size of a tree. The view from 
the hills of Lumio, down to the valley and gulf of Calvi, is beautiful. Calvi, which has about 25,000 
inhabitants, divided among six cantons and thirty-four communes, comprises nearly the whole north-western 
part of the island. Of the mountains and coast-land, not the half is cultivated, for the large coast-strip of 
Aleria is utterly waste, and only the Balagna is in gcod cultivation, and the most numerously peopled. 


brown flat-topped houses, very like those of Bethlehem or other places in 
Palestine, except in their wanting domes — and buried among olive-trees such 
as I have hardly seen out of Corfu. Below Lumio are groves of cork and 
phyllarea, cactus in great quantity, and an inexhaustibly profuse vegetation, 
of which it is difficult to give an idea, filling up every corner and slope not 
already cultivated, till lower down is a spread of ripe and broad corn-fields, 
with here and there a flat-topped house, just like those in the " country " of 
Malta round Valetta, or sometimes surrounded by a walled court-yard, 
resembling those round road-side khans in Albania. 

10.30 A.M. — From the bottom of the hill — I had sent on Flora and O to 
wait till I had done drawing at Lumio — the drive is less interesting. The 
road crosses the Calenzana river, a broad torrent, and later a still larger river 
bed, half lost in the tract of marshy ground near the sea, which, whether or 
not its creation was the direct result of the imprudent bishop's conduct, is 
very pernicious to the atmosphere of his diocese of Calvi. ( l ) The approach to 
that Genoese stronghold is very fine ; the rock on which the citadel stands, 
with the chief part of the city, and the cathedral, together with a church and a 
line of houses, close to the edge of the sea, are all reflected in the bay, and at a 
distance the whole has an imposing efifect.( 2 ) On approaching nearer, however, 
you soon perceive that the present condition of Calvi is nowise in harmony 

. When the Republican General Casabianca had to capitulate, in the year 1794, after the 
heroic defence of Calvi against the English, it was one of the articles of capitulation, that the old 
inscription above the gate should not be touched. Faithfully has the condition been observed, as may 
be read above the gate. — Gregorovius, p. 271. 

(') The neighbouring lagoon of Calvi — which it would be an important benefit to the town to drain — 
is called the Vigna del Vescovo (the Bishop's vineyard), and certain remains found about and even in 
the lagoon, prove that formerly the vine was really grown there. A popular tradition relates that once, 
amid the gaieties of the vintage, the Bishop of Sagona, then resident at Calvi, was led astray by the 
fascinations of a young girl, who teased the prelate to place the episcopal ring on her finger ; but at 
the moment when the reverend man gave way to her entreaty, the ring rolled away and was found no 
more. On the next morning the bishop returned to search for the ring, but the vineyard had sunk in 
the earth, and in its place was the lagoon. — Valery, i., p. 89. 

( 2 ) Calvi is the strongest place in the island ; its safe gulf is the nearest part of the Corsican coast to 
France, and but eight hours from Antibes. Built on a rock, although the capital of the Balagna, it is 
situated in its least cheerful part. — Valery, i. , p. 82. 

M. Valery, who was ill lodged in an inn at Calvi, and who regrets the hospitality so constantly 
offered him in the other parts of the island, says, funnily, " To effect any reform in the detestable and 
infrequent inns of Corsica it must be visited by the English, and even they will have enough to do. 
But as in Italy their efforts have had success, so, too, here they may chalk their complaints on all the 
walls of the rooms, inscribe their names even in the landlord's own book with anathemas against his 
hotel, and become, by their shouting, their noisy scenes, and their multitude of followers, the terror of 
the establishment." — Valery, i., p. 82. 

Calvi, founded by Giovaniello in the thirteenth century, became Genoese in 1278. It was the 
first place in Corsica which fell into the power of Alfonso of Arragon. Unsuccessfully attacked by 
De Thermes in 1553, it stood three sieges in 1555 against Des Ursins and Dragut, and to perpetuate the 
memory of its defence the Genoese Senate caused the inscription, still existing, " Civitas Calvi semper 
fidelis," to be engraved over the principal gate of the city. Paoli, unable to become master of Calvi, 
founded lie Rousse. In 1794 Admiral Hood took Fort Morello, which was held by General Casa- 
bianca, and only capitulated at the last extremity. 

The town of Calvi, placed at the southern extremity of the Balagna, not far from the mouth of the 

May 29.] THE HOTEL OF CALVI. 223 

with the proud fortress above it, and you are struck with the thinly-peopled 
village-like nature of the place, and the feeling of loneliness haunting the 
formidable heights and forts, whose history is concluded, and is only that of 
the past ; for the beauty of Calvi is that of decay, and its prosperity is 
departed, though few places are finer in situation, or would make a more 
beautiful picture. 

1 1 A.M. — I go to the Hotel de la Marina, the best here ; it stands on the 
sea side of the single street leading up to the citadel. The civil, but rather 
mournful proprietors, made their tolerably clean and very spacious rooms 
pleasant by that courtesy and active wish to oblige so universally met with — 
a repetition monotonous, but just and necessary — throughout Corsica. A very 
good breakfast of fresh fish, lobster, and maccaroni, is served before noon, 
although the landlord apologises for the difficulty of getting what is wanted 
for travellers who come without warning ; few people, indeed, come to this 
out-of-the-way place — which is a cul de sac, and beyond it no road leads — 
except those on business connected with Government, for Calvi still enjoys 
the honour of being a Sous-prefecture. 

This morning's drive has been one of great interest, and full of novelty ; 
the Balagna has always had the reputation of being the garden of Corsica, 
and, indeed, the completely cultivated look of this district contrasts greatly 
with that of other parts of the island. The upper Balagna, through which I 
must pass to-morrow on my way back to Corte, is said to be even more 
remarkable for beauty, and Miss C. describes it, in some notes she has 
sent me, as one long succession of pictures. Of the road through it, 

valley of the Fiumesecco, has seen its commerce decay in proportion to the increase of that of lie 
Rousse. Surrounded by uncultivated plains and incompletely drained marshes, Calvi withers from day 
to day. . . . To restore Calvi to its primitive affluence, the marshes which surround it must be 
drained, its port improved, and the road along the western shore between Ajaccio and Calvi terminated. 
— GrandcJiamps, p. 21. 

Calvi has greatly decayed since the foundation of lie Rousse, and its population diminishes daily. 
Whenever the vast and deserted coasts of Filosorma and Galeria are peopled and cultivated, the town of 
Calvi may possibly become the point of export for the produce of those new colonies, and take a place 
among commercial towns. — Galletti, p. 124. 

If the question of the birth of Columbus did not appear settled by the passage in the sublime and 
affecting will of that great man, which says "born at Genoa" ("en Genova"), the pretensions of 
Calvi would be specious enough. It was a Genoese colony; a family still existing there is named 
Colombo ; the papers relating to that family were carried off, they say, by the Genoese Commissioners, 
who also are said to have changed the name of a street called " Colombo " into " del filo ;" and, lastly, 
some inhabitants of Corsica were the first to embark for the new world. — Valery, i., p. 88. 

Only on one point are Genoa and the ever-faithful Calvi at odds. The Calvesi maintain that 
Columbus was born at Calvi ; that his family, though undoubtedly Genoese, had long ago settled there. 
They assert that Genoa took possession of the family registers of the Colombos of Calvi, and 
re-baptised one of the streets of the town, called Colombo Street, as the street "del filo." I find also 
a record that the inhabitants of Calvi were the first Corsicans who sailed to America, and I was told 
that the name Colombo still exists in Calvi. — Gregorovius, p. 271. 

There exists at Calvi, from time immemorial, a street called Colombo, and the inhabitants of that 
town believe they have certain proofs that Christopher Columbus was born at Calvi, in a house of the 
street which bears his name. — Galletti, p. 125. 



[May 29. 

M. Francesco Orsoni, the landlord of the 
Hotel de la Marina, who is very intel- 
ligent and communicative, gives me in- 
formation which is valuable, as Domenico 
does not know the distances. From Lumio 
(ten kilometres from here) to Muro, the 
half-way halt for the day's journey, are 
twelve kilometres, and beyond that twenty- 
two more to Belgodere ; at the latter place 
he names the locanda of a Madame Saetta 
as the only lodging he knows of. From Bel- 
godere to Ponte della Leccia are thirty-six 
kilometres, and on to Corte twenty-four 
more — a longer journey than that of to- 
morrow, but, excepting an hour or two of 
ascent from Belgodere to Sta. Columbana, 
the whole is down hill ; by all which it is 
clear that I can carry out my plans pretty 
exactly, provided there be no delay at the 
broken bridge over the Asco. M. Orsoni 
tells me that year by year this city — 
Calvi — becomes more deserted ; even the 
villagers from places close by do not resort 
to it, as they are more sure to dispose of 
their produce either by exchange, or for 
money, at lie Rousse, and flock thither 

After noon it rained pretty heavily until 
between 3 and 4, when I was able to make 
drawings of the grand and picturesque 
fortress town from the rocks above it ; 
from immediately behind the town the 
noble mountain -range beyond the bay 
forms a magnificent background, and all the 
scene is characterised by a wild and lonely 
splendour that is extremely impressive — 
earth and sea, once, in the days of repub- 
lican Genoa, so crowded and noisy, now by 
comparison so desolate and tenantless. The 
citadel — its walls of an even pallid gray 
tone of colour — stands beautifully forward 
in vivid light from the screen of mountains, 

May 29.] CALENZANA. 225 

just now almost black under piles of thunder-cloud, and I doubt if many 
finer subjects of the sort can be seen. (See Plate 36.) Later, I draw on the 
opposite side of the town until warned off by the chill from stagnant ditches 
and low frog-frequented pools below flourishing tamarisk, when I go up to 
the citadel ; the street leading to it is cleanly kept and well paved, and had 
it not been so late in the day I could well have liked to see the upper part 
of the city, beyond the gate over which the celebrated inscription — 


still remains. 

I made little progress up the steep narrow lanes between the fortress 
walls, for the heat of the day and climbing about the rocks had pretty well 
tired me, and I soon returned to the hotel, the sounds of a pianoforte and 
the cry of a peacock being — for I saw no living creature — my only memories 
connected with life in upper Calvi. (*) 

(') [Calvi is the point from which to go to Calenzana, one of the most interesting of Corsican 
villages, and which, as well as the portion of the west coast from Calvi to Porto, I regret not to 
see. — E. L.] 

Calenzana, one of the most populous of the smaller towns in Corsica, with nearly 2,000 inhabi- 
tants, is worth visiting from Calvi. Instead of being on an inaccessible height, as are many villages 
ot the island, Calenzana stands in a fresh and pretty valley, and has a glimpse of the sea. I visited the 
cemetery of the Germans (Campo Santo de' Tedeschi), where the Corsicans defeated the German 
auxiliaries of the Genoese under the Austrian general Wactendock. The campaign of the Germans 
began on August 10, 1731, and lasted eighteen months, and in it they lost more than 3,000 men. 
At one period the inhabitants of Calenzana, who had but a few score pistols, threw their hives at 
the heads of the assailants, and this charge of bees threw the enemy's army into confusion, and 
contributed to the victory of the Corsicans. The scene of that frightful carnage is a verdant 
and fertile field, and every year, after Good Friday, the clergy visit it, and sprinkle with holy 

water the earth where the bones of the strangers lie Near Calenzana, in the 

midst of some fields, is the Oratory of S. Restituta, spoken of by Filippini — one of the most ancient 
and venerated sanctuaries of Corsica, most probably of Pisan times, but unhappily it has been 
modernised. The little church of S. Pierre — a singular building — though also restored, is of the 
date of the Pisahs. 

The exploit of the Calenzana bees gives me an occasion of defending the honey of Corsica against 
three great poets of antiquity, Virgil, Horace, and Ovid, who reproach it for its bitterness. The 
bitter taste proceeds from the flowers of myrtle, box, lentisk, arbutus, and laurel, on which the bees 
feed, and prevails during autumn only, for the honey made in the spring is on the contrary very sweet 
and agreeable, and particularly wholesome. The ancients esteemed the wax of Corsica very highly, 
and two facts recorded by T. Livius prove the activity of its bees — a first tribute of 100,000 lbs, of 
wax was paid to the Romans to buy peace ; and a second was paid two years later, of 200,000 lbs. 
— Va/ery, i., p. 92. 

There is a vast quantity of honey produced in Corsica, for the island has from the earliest times 

been remarkable for its swarms of bees Many people think the bitterness which is in the 

Corsican honey very agreeable. — Boswell, pp. 48, 49. 

Calenzana is the most important of the villages named (Lumio, Monte Maggiore, &c.), and is one 
of the most populous of the island ; it is placed in a fertile and well-cultivated plain ; its streets are 
paved, &c. — Galletti, p. 122. 

Speaking of the defeat of the Imperialists — when of the German auxiliaries sold to the Genoese 
by the Emperor Charles VJ. 500 were left dead on February 2nd, 1732 — Gregorovius adds, "The 
Corsicans buried the foreigners, who had come into their country to fight against liberty, on the 
beautiful hill-side between Calvi and Calenzana. On foreign but heroic soil rest the bones of 


It is strange how the proprietors of these inns, who appear to have no 
regular customers, are able to provide so well as they do for chance comers. 
Yet the dinner at the Hotel de la Marina admitted of no complaint, for there 
was good soup, preceding a dish of lamprey, followed by boiled meat and 
potatoes, steaks, and a lobster salad, a pudding, cheese, and cherries. 

Late in the evening the storm clouds pass away, and the mountains on 
the other side of the bay become clear; they are very majestic, though more 
wall-like and less interesting than when partly hidden by mysterious cloud. 

our poor brothers And on every Easter Saturday, to the present day, the priests come 

from Calenzana to these graves of their foes — the ' Campo Santo de' Tedeschi,' as the field is called 

by the people — to besprinkle with holy water the spot where the poor hirelings fell It 

seemed to me as if I, who was one of the few Germans who have stood upon the hirelings' graves 
at Calenzana. and perhaps the only one who thought of them, was bound to thank the noble nation of 
the Corsicans, in the name of Germany, for this magnanimous and humane fellow feeling. And I 
dedicate the following inscription to my countrymen : — 


Five hundred wretched hirelings here we came, 
To Genoa by our own Emperor sold, 
The freedom of the Corsicans to slay ; 
For the offence we lie here in our blood, 
And do sad penance in a foreign grave. 
Not guilty call us, but for pity meet ; 
The foeman covers us with mercy o'er ; 
Revile not, wanderer, that dark age's sons ; 
Ye living shall make good our ignominy sore." — Gregorovkts, p. 276. 

I took to the sea again at Calvi, in order to go to the tower of La Girolata and to La Piana, 
The coast of Galeria is now wholly uncultivated. . . . The little port is not a bad one, 
and this is one of the many points in Corsica which ought to engage the attention of Government and 
attract capitalists. It was in the gulf of Girolata that John Doria, by an exploit worthy of his uncle 
the great Doria, whose galleys he commanded, fought with and took prisoner the terrible Corsair Dragut, 
who had made such frequent and terrible incursions in Corsica. As he, with all his crew, were being 
put in chains, Lavalette, afterwards Grand Master of Malta, said to him, " Senor Dragut, usanza di 
guerra." " Mudanza di fortuna," replied the Mussulman, who had formerly seen Lavalette one of his 
own slaves. — Valety, i., p. 95. 

At the end of the gulfs of Girolata and Porto are still seen some huts inhabited by cultivators or 
shepherds ; these hamlets are called Curzo, Pertinello, &c. , all built partly on the ruins of old villages 
devastated and burned by the Genoese. All this district, mostly uncultivated and wild, is included in 
the names of Galeria and Filosorma, and it is also called La Balagna Deserta. — Galletti, p. 130. 

Formerly all this part of Corsica was peopled by a race of peasants of warlike and restless pro- 
clivities, and the Genoese Government determined on dispersing the whole population by burning their 
houses and destroying their habitations. All these ancient villages formed two pieves, or cantons, 
Ermito and Sia. In the time of the historian Filippini there only existed the single village, Luzzopes, 
belonging to the old pieve of Ermito ; but later this also shared the same fate as that of the others. — 
Galletti, p. 128. 

The Basins, between Calvi and Ajaccio, ot the Fango, of the Porto, and the Liamone, will be utilised 
by the working out of the forests which crown their heights, and that of the Fango opening to the gulf of 
Galeria, will become one of the richest and most fertile of the island. The finest forests of Corsica 
would be available by the gulfs of Porto and Ajaccio. These valleys, at present wild and uncultivated, 
would be converted into lands of admirable fertility. Already the Greek colony of Carghese has shown, 
on the lands given to them between Paomia and Sagona, what industry can effect. — Grandchamps, 
pp. 22, 23. 

Port of Galeria, at the mouth of the river Fango, not safe. No port in the gulfs of Porto and 
Girolata. Port of Sagona little frequented, and not good at present. — See Grandchamfs, pp. 89, 90. 



Leave Calvi — Its Grand Position and Mournful Decay — Sadness of Corsican Singing — The Road along 
the Upper Balagna — 'Extreme Richness and Beauty of Scenery — Claude-like Landscapes — Cheer- 
fulness of the Valleys, and profuse Vegetation — Lavatoggio and other Villages — Views of Cap 
Corso from Muro of Balagna — Pretty Churches and Architecture— Numerous Hamlets— Approach 
to Belgodere, and difficulty of finding a Hotel there — Position of the Village — Friendliness of 
M. Malaspina, Maire of Belgodere— His Hospitable House and pleasant Family — Leave the 
Maire's House — Change of Scenery — Descent to the Valley of the Asco — The Broken Bridges — 
Village of Ponte della Leccia ; its very indifferent Accommodation and unlively Appearance — 
Regret at not being able to visit Morosaglia, the Birthplace of General Paoli — Return to Corte — 
Difference between the Inns of the Country and of the Towns of Corsica. 

May 30, 4 A.M. — A fine day is presaged by the clear line of mountain 
standing out, purple and dark, with silver-snow outline against the sky ; the 
good people of the Hotel de la Marina, whose charges are as moderate as 
their fare is good, make no difficulty in getting coffee for me by sunrise, 
and thus I can obtain some more memoranda of this Ultima Thule of 
Corsica before starting. The stately mournfulness of the forsaken Calvi 
cannot easily be forgotten by a painter who has seen it ; but, however good 
for the pencil, I cannot suppose it, from its unsheltered position, and from 
its marshy vicinities, pleasant as a residence, at any rate in summer. 

At 5.30 Flora and C a pick me up, and we proceed ; her master, Domenico, 
whistling, in harmony with the scenery, a dismal minor air. Soon, the Bishop's 
vineyard and the unhealthy flat ground are left behind by the fast trotting 
ponies, and then, from the dark olive plantations below the lofty Lumio, I 
walk up slowly to the top of the hill, unwilling to lose anything of the beau- 
tiful landscape its ascent and summit command. 

A little way beyond Lumio the road divides, and the lower, by which I 
came, is exchanged for that to the right, leading to la haute Balagne ; gradually 
ascending, it skirts at a great height the large Basin or amphitheatre, the 
streams from which unite in one running into the sea half way between lie 
Rousse and the Nebbio hills, near Torre Losari ; towering granite rocks form 
a wall to the right ; while on the left are terraces of corn and olive trees down 
to the sea, and at intervals a flat-roofed box-like house, a-la-Maltese, stands 
in the expanse of ripening grain. 

Turning more inland, and advancing beyond the first spurs of hill — from 
which you see Corbara, Aregno, and Sant' Antonino on your left — the great 
semicircle or principal Basin of this beautiful canton is entered, and at once 
you become aware that those who visit Corsica without going through upper 

P 2 


Balagna, remain ignorant of one of its finest divisions.^) For the next hour 
and a half's drive (as far as Muro, or Murato, at the twenty-first kilometre 
from Calvi, and half way thence to Belgodere) no description can exaggerate 
the beauty of this remarkable tract of mountain background and deep valley, 
which, for richness of foreground, cheerful fertility, and elegance of distance, 
may compete with most Italian landscapes. 

On all the more elevated parts of the district, below the topmost wooded 
heights and snow-capped mountains, stand numerous villages (there are 
thirty-six communes in all), and the form of this great semicircular theatre — 
at the upper edge of which, as it were, these hamlets stand — allows nearly all 
of them to be seen at one time ; most, unlike the generality of Corsican 
villages, possess extremely picturesque and tall campanili, and often there are 
detached chapels away from the hamlets, recalling somewhat of the grace of 
those in Southern Italy. Each of these "paesi" is placed amid a profusion 
of wood and garden, and below them the hill-side — entirely cultivated in 
every part — slopes down more or less steeply from rock, oak, chesnut, olive, fig 
tree, and cactus, to a small plain that stretches away to the hills of the Nebbio 
and the sea. Beyond all this the landscape (really resembling many of 
Claude's) is finished by the blue sea to the east of lie Rousse, and by the 
gulf of St. Florent hills, and the long line of Cap Corse delicately traced on 
the farthest horizon. (See Plate 37.) 

There is a life and cheeriness, too, in this canton that well harmonises with 
the brilliant and plentiful look of the landscape ; many peasants are met — the 
women as usual not riding sidewise — on finer mules than I have yet seen in 
the island ; and now and then some " signori " with tall black hats, which, for 
their shiny newness of look, might have come this very morning straight from 
Lincoln and Bennett's. And besides every other charm of this beautiful 
Balagna, there are those of never-failing civility and complete security. 

Lavatoggio, Cattari, Avapessa — still new villages are passed, and still the 

( } ) There are everywhere, especially in the vicinity of habitations, perfect Paradises of the most 
luxuriant chesnut, walnut, and almond trees, orange and citron orchards, and groves upon groves of 
olives. An excellent road leads all the way, skirting the base of the ^circle of mountains, and com- 
manding at every point most charming distant views over the sea or up to the mountains. — Gregoro- 
vius, p. 314. 

The territory of Aregno is plentifully planted with beautiful orange trees ; their fruit the best in the 
Balagna. — Valeiy, i., p. 79. 

The Abbe Galletti speaks of the "beautiful villages of the Balagna" — Muro, Felucto, Nessa, &c, 
the small commune of Avapessa, and others, at the edge of the carriage road from Calvi to Ponte alia 
Leccia, with many more at a distance from it, but still in the district of Calvi. The village of Lava- 
toggio is very cheerful looking, and there are beautiful houses in it, of which the best were built with 
money gained in America. Cateri, not far from this last-named village, has a church with a cupola of 
elegant architecture. The oranges of Aregno are reputed among the best in the island. — Galletti, p. 125. 

In all the many wanderings of a long life no scene I have observed has ever surpassed the exquisite 
panorama of la haute Balagne, and the Corsicans have a right to be proud of it, and may justly wish 
it to be seen. Rich though this beautiful district is, the people are so utterly unaccustomed to strangers 
that there are no inns, and not even a glass of wine could be procured. — Campbell, pp. 69, 70. 


eye delights in fresh and enchanting views ; here you pause to look at a 
particularly graceful hamlet with its tall church spire and cluster of brown 
flat-roofed houses ; a little way on you are arrested by park-like tracts of oak 
and corn-fields, dipping down to a broad plain-like flat, edged with Ithome- 
like hills and promontories, with interlacings of cultivated levels to the shining 
sea and pale Cap Corse. 

Near Muro the mid-day halt is ordained by Flora and C a , and breakfast 
hastily despatched below a friendly oak, to allow of my walking back three 
kilometres in order to make a difficult drawing of the lovely scene near 
Avapessa, as well as of one or two more near Muro ; for having now seen one 
side, or wing, so to speak, of this theatre, I have selected these two out of a 
multitude of almost equally beautiful subjects. Indeed, a theatre is no bad 
simile as applied to this great basin, by far the most industriously cultivated, 
the most cheerful and beautiful in all Corsica — the oak woods and the great 
cliffs above may represent the galleries ; and, next in order, the villages, 
gardens, and terraces stand for tiers of boxes ; the flat level of olives and 
corn for the pit ; the sea and remote hills for the stage and scenery. 

At I Flora and C a start anew ; the village of Muro, at the twenty-second 
kilometre from Calvi, in a corner of one of the great hollows or recesses 
formed by a projection of the hill, with its high white campanile and com- 
binations of arches among its houses, would be an elegant subject even on the 
Amain" or Positano coast. The road (as usual, excellent) is a regular cornice, 
running at a great height along the mountain side, and generally close to the 
villages, of which there is a succession — frequently hidden till you are close 
upon them — peeping out of little bays of foliage as you wind round the 
buttresses or spurs of the lofty heights. Feliceto and Nessa are the next 
hamlets ; Speloncato, Villa, Costa, Occhiatona, are further on, each with its 
own characteristic beauty, and forming a continuance of mountain-village 
scenes, such as can hardly be imagined. 

It is 2.30 when, always by a gradual ascent, Belgodere (') is approached ; it is 
the highest and last of all the communes in this remarkable horse-shoe valley, 
or rather collection of valleys, which unite in the cultivated level area below. 
As one looks back to the west from about the thirtieth kilometre from Bastia, 
there are perhaps the best views of the whole scene ; yet it is on a scale so 
extensive and varied, that it would be very difficult to convey any idea of it 
with the pencil ; separately, the hamlets are full of picturesque beauty, but 
such morsels would not represent the character of the whole landscape ; while 
the great size of the mountains, together with the tiny proportions the villages 

( l ) Belgodere, an ancient village of 800 inhabitants, was founded by one of those Marquises di Male- 
spina, called from Italy by the Corsicans to govern them during the ninth century. The view of the sea 
and of the cheerful valley of Fiumeregino, so fertile in olives, justifies the choice of the site. — Valery\ i., 
p. 74. 


bear to them, would prevent it being successfully transferred to paper as a 

Along this beautiful drive the great variety of foliage and the evidences 
of industrious labour are the unvarying characteristics of the scenery — here 
there are finer oaks, there the chesnut grows more abundantly, now the gardens 
of cherry trees seem to have no end, or the walnut and fig tree hide the houses 
and walls, and the olive glimmers lightly against the sky or dapples with 
thick groves the long level of corn that spreads northward to lines of distance 
rivalling Grecian landscape ; anon there are bright streams of water sparkling 
among the foliage, or broad carpets of fern clothing the sloping hill-sides ; 
extreme richness and fertility are everywhere seen ; nor in all this interesting 
and beautiful canton have I met with a single beggar. 

Now that I see Belgodere, which I reach at 3 P.M., I regret not having 
spent more time in drawing one or two of the villages I passed earlier in the 
day, for I soon perceive, long before reaching the village, that it contains little 
or no work for my pencil. Placed quite at the farthest and highest limits of 
upper Balagna, Belgodere looks down over an immense bird's-eye view of the 
whole district, wooded and olive-dotted to the shore, but though commanding 
the most comprehensive prospect of the canton, and one conveying the 
completest idea of its nature, it is, for all pictorial purposes, nearly im- 

Flora and C°- had been sent on before, but Domenico coming to meet me, 
says that the locanda Saetta " non esiste piu — exists no more," and that two 
other lodging-houses in Belgodere — a village considerably larger than any 
hereabouts — are full ; there is yet a third, which has two rooms, but on going 
to inspect them I find them by no means tolerable or to be endured ; and as 
in this instance my going to a private house can involve no loss of time, since 
there is nothing to do by way of drawing, I resolve to avail myself of an 
introductory letter given to me by the PreTet to the Maire, M. Malaspina. 

From this gentleman a most friendly welcome is forthcoming; with Cor- 
sicans — as in days I well knew of old, with Calabrians and Abruzzese — there 
is very little compliment and much sincerity. " I am only too glad the inns 
are full, and that you are thus obliged to give me the pleasure of receiving 
you, although it so happens that my family are away for the day, and there- 
fore you will not fare particularly well " — was said gravely and evidently in 
earnest, as M. Malaspina took me to his house — one of the largest in the 
place — and told Flora and C° where were his stables. 

The first floor is that resided in by the family, and that above it contains 
what may be called the guest rooms, and which are so well and handsomely 
fitted up that one seems in Paris. A more perfectly comfortable little bed- 
room than that allotted to me could not be found, and — for the day has been 
hot, and the landscape painter far from well — I am glad to get some rest in it 


till 6 P.M., when I join the Maire and his uncle, both intelligent and gentle- 
manly men, the latter an elderly person who has passed many years in 
different parts of Italy. 

Landscape being my main object in coming to this island, I have through- 
out avoided all arrangements by which delays to my work could be occasioned, 
and thus have allowed myself to see but little of the Corsicans, a circumstance 
I in some senses regret, for whenever I have done so, the making their 
acquaintance has been invariably a source of pleasure, and on the present 
occasion particularly so. At 7 dinner was announced, and we descended to 
the family dining-room, where were the wife of the Maire's son (he himself is 
a widower) and his two daughters. I was carried forcibly back to days of 
Abruzzo travelling by the friendly ways and hospitable anxieties of these 
amiable people, who live in a plentiful and patriarchal style, and whose dinner, 
profuse and of excellent quality, gave ample evidence of a well-managed 
household. They insisted on the Suliot sitting at the same table, spite of his 
appeal to me, and as the service was limited, I thought it best to acquiesce. 

What though there were dishes of hare, roast fowl, creams, and many 
other good things, only my host the Maire partook of animal food, the rest of 
the family eating snails or vegetables only, as it was a vigil or fast day ; none 
the less, however, was their attention to their guest unremitting. Their home- 
made wine was thoroughly good, but they had two other sorts of Corsican 
vintage ; altogether the entertainment was a very pleasant oasis in these days 
of doubtful Locande, and well it is for me that M. Gery gave me this introduc- 
tion. Later, accompanied by the three ladies, who were all unaffected and 
well-bred, we adjourned to the well-furnished drawing-room, to which coffee 
was brought, and here we talked till 9.30, when this kindly family wished me 

These people are quite an fait regarding all European intelligence ; and 
their remarks on Turkey, Italy, and other subjects, were free from the preju- 
dice and violence so frequently met with in proportion to the ignorance of the 
speakers. Of their own island they are acquainted with the minutest details 
of both present and past condition, physical or political ; and the wide interest 
shown upon European and cosmopolitan topics in so remote a mountain 
district contrasts curiously with the apathy and blank ignorance noticeable in 
many similar positions. There is, however, this difference respecting the Cor- 
sican's broad intelligence regarding contemporary history : his own island and 
people have been for so long a time actors in the principal European events, 
that it is but natural he should become acquainted with facts which are, so to 
speak, a part of his own interests, whereas to all other countries they are only 
outside occurrences. 

Concerning the bridge of the Asco torrent, M. Jean Andre Malaspina 
tells me he has inquired, and finds that though the bridge is not yet 


repaired, yet the waters of the river having subsided, a carriage can easily 
ford them. 

May 31. — M. le Maire joins me at sunrise with coffee, and at 5.30 A.M. walks 
with me a good distance out of the village on my way. Provokingly watchful, 
my host does not allow me the least chance of conveying a " tip "to the female 
domestic, a point not easily attained in such houses. I am sorry to take leave 
of M. Jean Andre Malaspina. Nothing could be kinder than the behaviour 
of these amiable people, to whom a stranger and servant coming thus aW 
improviso might well have been somewhat a cause of difficulty. 

A long and steep ascent leads eastward from Belgodere ; this, the outpost 
of Balagna, being the last of its villages but one small hamlet, Palasca ; and 
half an hour having been given to making a last drawing of the " garden of 
Corsica," the fertile olive-dotted and yellowing plains soon disappear as the 
shoulder of the mountain is turned, and the line of blue and green Nebbio 
hills takes the place of more varied and cheerful scenery. A wild uninha- 
bited space, contrasting strongly with the gay landscape of yesterday is now 
looked down on as the road winds upwards, and as at this height the heat of 
the day is not felt, I walk on to the top of the pass, or Bocca di Santa Colum- 
bana, reaching it at 8.30 (at seven and a half kilometres from Belgodere, and 
fifty and a half from Calvi). Little is there to be remarked on the way up — 
a road to the right towards the top leads to the forest of Tartagine,( ! ) to Olmi, 
and other villages ; to the left, far below, is a wide expanse of sea, and a scrap 
of lie Rousse and its rocks ; and all else, excepting some groups of cattle at 
a fountain, is a breadth of maquis-covered hill-tops. 

On the southern side of the Bocca di Santa Columbana, the great snowy 
summits of the highest mountains near Asco and the Niolo are seen, but their 
bases are cut off by a range of lower hills, among which a very steep descent, 
which occupies, at a rattling pace, from 8.30 to 10 A.M., leads southward to 
Corte, mostly by the stony bed of a nearly dry torrent. Ever and anon above 
the rounded and cystus covered sides of this narrowing gorge peer the jagged 
and snowy Alp tops, but it is not to be denied that this part of the day's 
journey possesses very slender interest, and the observer is reduced to the con- 
templation of perverse stray cattle, who on no account will allow the carriage 
to pass them, but keep ever foolishly running on for miles ahead of the 
horses; and of the groups, few and far between, of Corsicans on mules, all in 
black cloth, but all carrying beaming white umbrellas. Here and there this 
closely shut-in valley is enlivened by a plot of corn, or two or three walnut 

(') The valley of Tartagine is in parts very well cultivated ; among others, the canton of Olmi-Capella, 
where are olive, ilex, and chesnut trees. The inhabitants are cattle breeders, and from this locality 
come the mules which transport the oils of La Balagna to Castaniccia and to Corte. — Grandchai?ips, 
pp. 41, 60, &c. 

May 31.] 



trees, and at intervals a spread of scarlet-blossomed poppies adds a short- 
lived gleam of gaiety to the winding dulness of this, the least interesting 
of any part of Corsica I have seen, and the passage through which is not 
made more cheerful by Domenico's mournful melody of minor moanings, 
at which, after long continuance, it is clear that only Flora's extreme sense 
of dignity and what is right prevents her from howling aloud. 

It is a relief when the valley opens out and admits some grand mountain 
distance with groups of ilex and lentisk for foreground, and shortly the bridge 


is reached which should span the torrent that descends from Monte Padro 
through the valley below Olmi and Castifao ; this bridge, though not that of 
the dreaded Asco river, has also been broken by the heavy winter rains, but a 
road has been made down to the water — now much lessened, by which Flora 
and C°- pass over. At 10.30 (seventy-two kilometres from Calvi) is the real 
difficulty ; here the Asco, which descends from Monte Cinto, and is in the 
rainy season a formidable torrent, has devastated the whole of the valley, and 
swept away the greater part of the long bridge built across it. In Corsica, 
however, these rapid rivers soon exhaust their force, and there is at present but 
little water in the river bed, so that while Flora and C°- go down by the 
temporary road and ford the river, a system of planks placed at a giddy and 


uncomfortable height on the broken bridge piers, enable the foot-passengers 
to cross it. 

Here I remain till 1 1 A.M., for there are few views of the kind better 
worth drawing. Looking up the great valley of Asco, the peaks and crags 
of what I suppose to be the summits of Monte Traunato and Monte Cinto 
fill the whole of the picture with an array of giant pinnacles, finer in its way 
than anything I have seen, except Gebel Serbal from Wady Es Sheikh, near 
Mount Sinai. A small bridge over a tributary stream remains intact, as if to 
form a foreground with the trees and lower hills above which the long range 
of delicately pencilled spires rise so majestically. (See Vignette, p. 233). 

Two more kilometres are passed, and Ponte della Leccia( 1 ) is reached — 

0) [Ponte della Leccia should have been, had time permitted it, my starting-point to see the country 
ofPaoli.— E. L.] 

Boswell's " Memorabilia of Pietro Paoli " supply ample materials for any modern Plutarch who 
would contrast his character with that of his rival countryman. Napoleon Buonaparte. Though Paoli's 
sphere was narrow, so was that of some of the greatest men in Grecian history ; and, like theirs, it had 
far-extended relations. The eyes of Europe were upon him ; Corsica was then its battle-field ; and the 
principles of his conduct and administration are of universal application. —Forester. 

■■ In the morning I went to the village of Stretta, where the three Paolis were born. One must see 
this Casa Paoli fully to comprehend the history of the Corsicans, and to admire yet more those extra- 
ordinary men. It is a wretched, blackened village-hovel, standing on a granite rock. A fresh 

mountain-spring wells up immediately before the door Everything in the house bears the 

stamp of a peasant's cottage ; you ascend by a steep wooden staircase to the mean-looking chambers, in 
which Paoli's wooden table and chair are still standing. — Gregorovius, p. 237. 

There are several notices of the life of Clement Paoli, the eldest son of Hyacinthus, in Grego- 
rovius — of his courage and persistence, his enthusiasm and religious zeal. When the Genoese were 
storming the fortified camp of Furiani with all their force, Clement remained unshaken in the ruins 
for fifty-six days, though the whole place was battered down. He achieved most brilliant feats of 
arms also after the French had proceeded to assail the Corsicans, in the year 1768. He gained the 
glorious battle of Borgo, and he fought desperately at Ponte Nuovo, and when all was lost hastened 
to rescue his brother, and embarked with him for Tuscany. After a convent life of twenty years (at 
Vallombrosa), he returned to Corsica and died there, in penance and grief. 

The convent of Morosaglia is perhaps the most venerable monument of Corsican history. It looks 
like a hoary legend petrified, brown and gloomy, with a dismal high-towering campanile by its side. 
At all periods of the national history, parliaments were held in this old Franciscan monastery. Pasquale 
had rooms and offices there, and was often seen in the summer with the monks, who carried the crucifix 
into battle at the head of the army. His gallant brother Clement was fond of residing in the same 
convent, and died in one of its cells in 1 793. 

Many details of Paoli's life still live here in the mouths of the people. An aged man told me that, 
when a boy, he was once going along the road with a schoolfellow, reciting a passage of Virgil, Pasquale 
Paoli happening to come up behind him, tapped him on the shoulder and continued the passage. Old 
people have seen him walking beneath these chesnut-trees, in his long green coat with gold stripes — the 
Corsican colours — and in a vest of brown Corsican cloth. — P. 260. 

In the year 1 790 Napoleon visited the battle-field of the Golo ; he was then twenty-one years old ; 
but he had probably seen it as a boy. — Gregorovius, pp. 243, 260, &c. 

\Valery, p. 300, speaks of the ancient and picturesque castle of Serravalle, in the valley of Deza, 
and above the village of Piedigriggio, not far from Corte, as one of the most perfect in Corsica.] 

At Morosaglia, the old and vast convent of Franciscans was the summer residence of Paoli 
during the war of independence. The three or four cells which formed the apartments of Clement 
Paoli, and where that brave and pious patriot died at an advanced age, at the end of I793> 
is now occupied by the gendarmerie. . . The convent of Morosaglia has seen many illustrious 
guests — the Paoli, Pozzo di Borgo, Lucien Buonaparte, and Napoleon, who came there in 1790 to visit 

The house of Paoli at Morosaglia stands on the side of a hill, surrounded by wooded mountains, and 


a forlorn and dreary-looking cluster of houses by the bridge over the Golo. 
Here is the junction of the main road from Ajaccio and Corte to Bastia 
with the Routes Forestieres from Calvi and the Balagna, and that from the 
country about Orezza ; and so important is this spot considered as a centre 
of communication in the island, that it has been more than once suggested 
that a city should be founded here. When those plans are carried out, 
there may perhaps be better cheer for the passing traveller than he finds at 
present, for, in spite of the " che cosa volete mangiare ? — what will you 
have to eat?" asked by the apathetic inmates of the sorry and very dirty 
house doing duty for a wayside " hotel," nothing but eggs can be obtained, 
and those eaten with difficulty, on account of the plague of flies which 
abounded, owing to the unclean state of the floors. 

Nor could much be done in the way of drawing at Ponte della Leccia, 
by reason of the high wind blowing ; and, indeed, standing as it does in 
the centre of gorges below high mountains, the thought humbly presents 
itself that the climate of the future city here may not prove of the most 
delightful kind. I could make only a few memoranda of the large fine 
bridge and of the great flocks of black sheep arriving from the plains on 
their way to the high mountain pastures. Somehow, whether it be that the 

with a little brook running below it. The house had a little chapel attached. They show the narrow 
room where Paoli was born. A new stone stairway has been commenced to the upper storey ; the old 
one is but a kind of wooden ladder. The old people of the place relate that when Paoli returned from 
Naples, and found that his brother Clement had placed glass windows to the rooms, he broke them all 
with his stick, &c. The aspect of the house is not changed. 

[M. Valery found at Morosaglio the copy which Alfieri gave of his works to Paoli — the volumes, 
scattered in the disturbances of 1 796, and in the pillage of the convent, having been collected by degrees 
from the peasantry, who had taken away whatever belonged to the chief, in order to preserve them. 
M. Polidori now possesses the edition in question.] 

The peasantry of the canton of Rostino, well-to-do and intelligent, and with whom Paoli ever lived 
on terms of familiarity, have preserved many memories of the distinguished men who were grouped 
round him. In spite of the reputation of Napoleon, Paoli has always remained the national hero of 
Corsica. They have not forgotten that the general, who dressed usually in a green cloth dress em- 
broidered with gold, wore a plain Corsican suit of dark woollen when among them in the mountains. — 
Valery, i., pp. 295, 296. 

In the neighbourhood of Ponte alia Leccia, in the valley of the Golo, is the true central point. 
There the roads to Ajaccio and Bastia, and those from Calvi to Corte and Bastia, cross ; there would 
pass all the produce of the continent disembarked at lie Rousse or Bastia destined for Central Corsica, 
and it is marked as a commercial entrepot. The projected railway from lie Rousse to Bastia and Porto 
Vecchio, from the Col of Pietralba, the lowest part of the chain dividing Corsica into two slopes, would 
pass Ponte alia Leccia, and from there by rail the transit would be of less than one hour to lie Rousse or 
Bastia, three to Porto Vecchio, and two to Corte by the high road. Ponte alia Leccia would then 
be equally distant from Corte from the three ports which would most influence Corsica — lie Rousse, 
Bastia, and Porto Vecchio. As a strategic central point also Ponte alia Leccia would be preferable 
to all others. — Grandchamps. 

The Ponte a la Leccia is the most central point of the island, as well as one of the most historic 
scenes of many sanguinary struggles during the wars of independence, &c. Ponte a la Leccia is the spot 
where the roads centre from Calvi, Corte, Ajaccio, Bastia, to the cantons of Lama, Castifao, Morosaglia, 
Piedicroce, San Lorenzo, Omessa, &c. It is in this valley, as beautiful as central, where so many 
roads of communication end, that M. Grandchamps, chief engineer of roads and bridges, has shown 
in his work on Corsica, printed in 1855, the necessity of founding a town, which would in a short 
time become populous and flourishing. — Gallctti. 


day is overcast and cloudy, or from the great contrast of the scenery 
here to that of the gay and beautiful Balagna, Ponte della Leccia seems to 
me the gloomiest place I have visited in Corsica. Nor do the few people 
about it enliven it — a grave and solemn set, all dressed in black velve- 
teen ; their dialect, however, is perfectly easy to understand, and their 
civility unfailing. 

There are intervals when the most enthusiastic tire of travel, and I confess 
that the two hours I pass at Ponte della Leccia are of such a kind ; I am 
vexed, too, that I have not time to visit Morosaglia and Ponte Nuovo, and 
other places. And to-day even the head of the travelling establishment, 
the little dog Flora, in spite of all her valuable and amiable qualities, is 
out of favour, for in these unclean places she contracts so large an amount 
of the only vivacity they possess, in the shape of lively insects, that her 
propinquity is shunned, to avoid contagion, so that when she enters a 
room she has to be ejected, an indignity she bears with touching meekness 
and grace. 

2.30 P.M. — Off from Ponte della Leccia ; the road running below distant 
dark-cragged mountains, where stormy effects and gleams of light on snow 
and granite create many a grand picture, but none of so distinctive a nature 
as to induce me to halt to make drawings. Many carts, containing great 
numbers of Italians — Lucchesi as they call them here, on account of their 
coming chiefly from that part of Italy — are met. These industrious people 
are returning to Bastia, to embark for Leghorn. ( l ) 

At Ponte Francardo, ( 2 ) where the river Golo, which descends here from 
the Niolo, is left, the road proceeds between a pass of narrow rocks, where a 
drawing might well have been made had the landscape painter been in an 
industrious mood ; but it was otherwise, and Corte — the approach to it from 
this side (see page 173) is assuredly most majestic — was reached by 4.30 P.M., 
Domenico driving at a great pace, to have as much leisure as possible for the 
enjoyment of city life. 

On arriving at the little inn I had stayed at during my first visit, I find 
that the house is full, and as Domenico recommends another, which he 
says is " Bello e grande, e ci vanno tutti i alti signori — fine and large, 
and frequented by the greatest persons of Corsica," I go thither, as it is 
situated at that end of the town from which I have to start to-morrow. 

{ l ) The Corsicans have, to the present time, maintained their well-founded reputation of shrinking 
from work I have had proof of the deep-seated contempt they feel for the poor and indus- 
trious Lucchesi, because they leave their homes and work in the sweat of their brow, to take home 
some little savings to their families. 

I often heard the word Lucchese employed as a term of abuse ; indeed, in the mountains of the 
interior especially, all field labour is hated, and deemed unworthy of a free man. — Gregorovius . 

( L ) Two enormous rocks very near each other, between which the carriage road passes, give to the 
place the name of Strette d'Omessa, beyond the bridge of Francardo. Here Sampiero held in check 
the Genoese troops ; and all parts hereabouts are full of historical interest. — Galletti, p. 203. 

May 31.] INNS OF CORSICA. 237 

But so disgusting is the room I am shown into, that it is not possible 
to remain in it, and I am at my wits' end, for should I go to the only 
remaining inn, the Hotel de l'Europe, that also might happen to be full, and 
then I should have no chance of shelter, for here they would hardly take me 
in if I returned, and the President, M. Corteggiani, I had already ascertained, 
was absent from Corte. Fortunately for me, some people at this moment 
are leaving the hotel, and Giorgio seizing on their room, and giving it a 
thorough cleaning, it becomes habitable for the few hours I need it. A very 
tolerable dinner is provided, and the people — let me say what I can of good 
— are all thoroughly civil. 

But oh ! for the nice clean little rooms of Evisa, Luri, and St. Florent ! 
or even of Grosseto, Carghese, or Piana ! From all these villages the proud 
city of Corte may well take long and deep lessons of cleanliness and 



Leave Corte — Return to Venaco, and Walk to Lugo and Serraggio — Visit to the Moufflon — Mid-day 
Halt in a Chesnut Wood — Blackbirds and Nightingales — Thunderstorm — Return to Vivario — 
The Hotel there — The Handsome Daughters of the Landlady — Praises of Miss C. — Fine Weather 
and Return late to Ponte del Vecchio — Grand Scenery near it — Leave Vivario — Ascent to the 
Forest of Sorba — Another Beautiful Forest — Distant View of the Plains of Fiumorbo — Arrival at 
Ghisoni — Smartness of its Hotel — Rain and Storm — Gloomy Position of Ghisoni — The Road to 
the Forest of Marmano— Great Rocks of Ivy rie Eleison— The Convict Settlement or Penitencier 
in the Pine Forest — Doctor Casanova— Early Morning in the Forest of Marmano — The , Col de 
Verde and Long Descent to Cozzano — Loss of a Horse-shoe, and Delay — Unruly Charcoal Burners 
■ — Great Valley of Guitera — Hotel of the Baths — Hot Springs of Guitera — The Pleasant Waitress 
— Ascent to Zicavo ; Description of the Villages — Return to Guitera — Beautiful Valleys between 
Guitera and the Sea — Santa Maria Zicche- — Return to Grosseto, Cauro, and Ajaccio — Leave 
Ajaccio for Nice. 

June I. — At 5 A.M. I leave Corte — nor can I add with regret — once more. 
Happy are they for whose noses much suffering is not decreed ! but let those 
whose sense of smell is delicate avoid Corte until it be blessed with better 
drainage and cleaner habits. 

It is a clear morning, and the drive up to the beautiful chesnut woods of 
Santa Maria di Venaco is delightful. To me this place is one of the most 
charming as a summer dwelling, of all I have seen in Corsica, excepting parts 
of Paradise-Balagna ; besides its high and open position, it has the advan- 
tages of a plentiful supply of water, and of lovely walks among walnut 
and chesnut groves in every direction. From here I send on Flora and C 0- 
to Vivario, where to-night must be passed, intending to walk thither, the 
distance being but fifteen kilometres. 

At Lugo, the first village through which the road passes, there are 
triumphal arches and flags, and other unexpected indications of excitement, 
with a large inscription of " Hommage a Mariani " — from all which I learn 
that the Baron Mariani of Corte is expected here to-day to visit his estates, 
and a fete has been promoted in consequence. Enquiring after that very 
exclusive beast, the transitory " Moufflon," I hear he is really returned to his 
mountain home at Serraggio, and on reaching that place at 8 A.M. I proceed 
to ascertain the dwelling of his Moufflonship.f 1 ) " L'animale," however, as the 

(*) And there is here a curious animal called muffoli. It resembles a stag, but hath horns like a 
ram, and a skin uncommonly hard. It is very wild, and lives on the highest mountains, where it can 
hardly be approached, it is so nimble. It will jump from rock to rock, at the distance of many feet, 
and, if hard chased to the extremity of a cliff from whence it can reach no other, it will throw itself over, 
and with surprising agility pitch upon its horns, without receiving any hurt. Yet, when these creatures 
are taken young, they are very easily tamed. M. de Marboeuf, the French commander at the time I was 

June I.] 



twenty or thirty youthful Serraggians who collect round me, call him, is even 
now not easily seen, his master being in the fields, and it was 9 A.M. before 
his owner came up to the village with the key of his stable, and introduced 
me to this long-sought-for and respected quadruped. Doubtless he is a 
magnificent fellow, with a prodigious pair of horns, and he has already lost 
the savage shyness which marked his disposition when he was first captured 
at the beginning of last winter, when the snow lay low on the mountains, and 
he had come down in search of food to the enclosed grounds, into one of 
which he fell from some rocks, and was captured. 

After getting such a sketch of the Moufflon as I was able to ac- 


complish by reason of the crowding of intelligent but vexatious villagers, 
whose natural curiosity I confess was well atoned for by their good-nature 

in Corsica, had then one of them, and there are now two of them at Shugborough, in Staffordshire, the 
seat of Mr. Anson, &c. — Boswdl, p. 41. 

Mouflon, or Musmon. 

Found in wild and uncultured parts of Greece, Sardinia, Corsica, and in the deserts of Tartary. 

Kamschatkans pass the latter part of summer in pursuit of these animals. Sometimes their horns 
grow two yards long. Ten men can hardly hold one of these Kamschatkan moufflons. Their horns 
are often so large that foxes shelter themselves in those which fall off by accident. 

Mouflon or musmon, animal neither sheep nor goat ; hair, no wool ; horns like those of a ram ; 
some grow to an amazing size, measuring above two yards long ; general colour of hair, reddish 
brown ; found in the uncultivated parts of Greece, Sardinia, Corsica, and Tartary. Form, strong and 
muscular ; fearful of mankind, and when old seldom taken alive. Frequents the highest summits 
of mountains. The old rams have furious battles with each other.— Bewicks "-history of Quad- 
rupeds,' 1 '' p. 64. 

From a sort of little stable attached to the convent (Corte), Captain Mariani drove out several 
Muffoli. — Benson, p. 51. 


and civility, I go onward down the road as far as the tenth kilometre from 
Vivario, and there, below huge trees, establish myself for the mid-day halt and 
breakfast brought from Corte ; making studies of cystus flowers—are they 
not a part of all Corsican foreground ? — and writing letters among the 
shadowed fern, quickly passing the hours away. No fairer resting place can 
indeed be found than this— the high arching chesnut trees with the far blue 
eastern hills seen through them ; turf, fern, and cystus all around, a stream 
of fresh water gurgling close by ; and a delightfully sociable blackbird sitting 
on a rock a little way off, and singing from time to time, for whom the lines — 

" Take warning ! he that will not sing 
While yon sun prospers in the blue, 
Shall sing for want, ere leaves are new, 
Caught in the frozen palms of Spring — " 

were never intended. 

At Serraggio a " Madame " had asked me, with loud accents, to visit her 
" hotel " for refreshment, but there are many and good reasons for preferring 
breakfast in the open air to one in the village inns, few of which can be 
expected to equal those of Evisa and Luri — those, indeed, were rather private 
lodging-houses than inns at all — here one has fresh air, quiet — excepting the 
song of blackbirds and nightingales — flowers, and a beautiful prospect ; while 
in those sad little houses you have none of these blessings, but on the contrary, 
are likely to find noise, flies, and dirt. 

The day becomes clouded, and above the mighty heights of Monte 
Rotondo, on whose sides I am resting, clouds gather, and low growlings of 
thunder are heard, preluding, perhaps, the ordinary afternoon storm in these 
parts. And as all at once a blinding flash of lightning comes simultaneously 
with a peal of crackling thunder, as if fifty pistols had been fired off close to 
one's ear, warning me that the vicinity of tall chesnut-trees is undesirable — 
to which many of their split and blackened tops bear witness — I move on 
towards the Ponte del Vecchio. Rain, however, now sets in, and I can only 
commence a drawing of this magnificent scene, which I thus pass for the 
second time without securing, before I am obliged to go on towards Vivario, 
which I reach at 4.15 P.M., after a not very satisfactory day's work. Now that 
the fetes of Corte are over, this road is as unfrequented as any ; two mounted 
gendarmes, accompanying two prisoners tied with a long rope, are the only 
individuals I have seen since I left Serraggio. 

The hotel in the little back alley at Vivario, is, as when I came through 
here on the 20th, quite full, but I get two rooms in an adjoining house. The 
ladder entrance to the public eating-room at the inn is not prepossessing, nor 
is the appearance of the room itself without need of a balance of compensation, 
which some opine to be a universal law of nature. Such there certainly was 
at the hotel of Vivario, where it came in the form of a very jovial and 
pleasant landlady and of two surprising daughters, the sudden appearance of 


whom from an inner chamber was most astonishing. For not only were these 
two girls of extreme beauty, both in face and figure, but they were dressed 
in the best Parisian taste, their coiffure arranged with the utmost care, and 
altogether they were a very unexpected sight in so rude a mountain village ; 
these damsels, however, take no part in the hotel menage, but only beam forth 
at occasional intervals. 

Of Miss C. the landlady here speaks with the greatest enthusiasm, and 
adds, " C'est si remarquable qu'elle soit si gaie, parceque toutes les autres 
Anglaises qu'on voit sont tristes et froides et superbes," a general accusation 
of my countrywomen I very positively oppose as untrue. My hostess, how- 
ever, it is but just to say, excepts the Hon. Mrs. A. B., who it seems has lately 
been here, from this sweeping condemnation, and, like all the rest who have 
seen that lady, goes into raptures about her beauty. 

The Ajaccio Diligence arrives at 6 P.M., when the conducteur, three or four 
passengers, myself and man, sit down to dinner, at which there are plenty of 
fine trout and other food of less good quality — but as the good woman says, 
" Siamo in Corsica, in un villaggio," and at short notice little can be got. While 
at table the storm clouds roll away, and the mountains all at once become 
so perfectly clear, that I resolve to go down once more to the Ponte del Vecchio, 
and, late as it is, to make a third and last trial to draw it. So, sending G. to 
the lodging for a light folio and a single sheet of paper, the Diligence picks 
me up as I walk on, and rattling quickly down the hill, drops me close to 
the bridge by 7 P.M., a help forward cheaply paid for by a franc to the con- 
ducteur. Here I draw, as rapidly as possible, till 7.45 : the great snowy 
summit of Monte Rotondo — if that be it which appears to the left up this wild 
ravine — the line of crags and dark pine woods all along the centre of the gorge, 
the immense granite precipices hanging just above the rapid stream, its pro- 
found shadow and narrow depths here and there lighted up with gleams and 
flashes of brightness, make at this hour a sublime piece of mountain scenery. 
There is also this association with the scene, that General Paoli, after the 
battle of Ponte Nuovo, took leave of his friends at the bridge here — not the 
solid structure now existing, but one of wood — previous to embarking at 
Porto Vecchio for his long exile in England. 

It was 8.30 before I had walked back to Vivario ; but the magnificent 
bridge scene was worth this, and even more trouble. (See Plate 38.) 

June 2. — This day is to be allotted to forest journeying — by Sorba to 
Ghisoni, and thence to Marmano. The people of Vivario seem of the true 
idler stamp, so typical of many Corsican villagers, and so great a contrast 
to those of Cap Corse and La Balagna. The " roba " has to be brought 
from the lodging to the Piazza whence Flora and C 0, are to start ; but, 
though there are some twenty men standing with their hands in their pockets 



— Domenico says they are all "landed proprietors" — not one will lend a 
helping hand. It is, therefore, as late as 5.45 A.M. before we get off; for, 
with Flora and C a , a long time passes before luggage is properly fastened 
on ; yet, though slow, we are sure, and none has ever come loose or fallen off. 

The great mountains Rotondo and d'Oro are perfectly cloudless, the 
morning delightful. The road for two kilometres is the same as that to 
Ajaccio by Bocognano ; and from the heights up which it is carried there 
are good views of Vivario, but so extensive and full of detail as to require 
more time than I dare give at the beginning of a long day's journey. Then 
a Route Forestiere, leading to Ghisoni, turns off from the Ajaccio road, and 
after three more kilometres, enters the forest of Sorba, which covers the 
mountain — part, I think, of the great Monte Renoso — on the south of Vivario, 
and winds with steep and sharp curves, guiltless of parapets, to a great 
height through the pines, the bocca or summit being at the ninth kilometre 
from Vivario. Sorba, one of the smallest forests of Corsica, has naturally 
no pretensions to rank with those I have previously seen as to extent, but 
is nevertheless remarkable for the great beauty of its splendid foliage and the 
great size of its cushion-topped trees, and for their picturesque growth among 
great rocks and precipices. Moreover, through the whole ascent you have 
Monte d'Oro and Monte Rotondo in full view, forming the very grandest 
compositions when combined with the depths of pine, at this early hour all 
in shadow. All the route to Corte, too, as far as Santa Maria di Venaco, 
is mapped out below your feet. (See Plate 39.) 

The steep descent on the other side from the Col di Sorba — the road 
in such bad condition from the constant passage of heavy timber-cars that 
I send on Flora and C 0- to the valley below — is wanting in interest and 
beauty. High up, one glimpse of the eastern plain (not far from Migliacciara), 
and of the Etang d'Urbino is seen, and, for a short space, this gives some- 
what of a new character to the scenery ; but the greater part of the 
walk down to Ghisoni is through a tract, once all forest, but now in a 
process of " exploitation," and completely marred and spoiled. Lower down 
in the valley — through which, coming from Monte Giovanni (the mountain 
on whose western face stands Bastelica), the stream of Fiumorbo flows to 
the sea near Ghisonaccio (see page 79) — stands Ghisoni, approached through 
chesnut woods, and apparently, as one looks down on its roofs, a tolerably 
large and stirring place ; for it is the point to which the pines are brought 
from the forests both of Marmano and that through which I have just passed, 
as well as the half-way halt between the Casabianda settlement and Corte ; 
and also it is the nearest place to the branch penal establishment of Marmano, 
where I intend to pass the night. But, as the mid-day storm comes on, with 
pouring rain, just as I reach the Ghisoni " hotel," I hurry on too quickly to 
allow of much observation along the latter part of the road before I arrive 

June 2.] THE INN OF GHISONI. 243 

there. The scenery from the Col de Sorba is, however, of a commonplace 
character by comparison with much I have seen in the island. 

The hotel is a clean, nay, a spruce and tidy locanda, the stairs and rooms 
splendid when contrasted with those of Vivario ; the walls and ceilings are 
painted with landscapes, and groups of fish, game, &c, and there are scarlet 
curtains to all the windows. As usual, a good dish of trout for breakfast was 
not wanting. 

Having a letter of introduction to M. le Maire of Ghisoni, and being 
anxious to know something of the distances of to-morrow's journey, I send it 
to M. Michele Mattei, who is good enough to call, and give me much infor- 
mation, as well as a letter to the doctor residing at Marmano, in case no notice 
of my coming should have been forwarded by M. Beurville, the directeur at 
Casabianda. There are five kilometres, says M. Mattei, from the Marmano 
establishment to the Bocca or Col de Verde at the summit of the forest, and 
nineteen thence down to Cozzano ; to Bagni di Guitera there are seven more, 
and to Zicavo five out of the main road and five back, so that the whole 
distance may be safely reckoned as being under forty-five kilometres. The 
great precipices called the " Insecca," of which I have heard so frequently as 
being some of the most remarkable in Corsica, are as much as eleven kilo- 
metres from here on the road to Casabianda, so that although I much wished 
to see them, all idea of doing so must be given up, as twenty-two extra 
kilometres would destroy all chance of my getting to Ajaccio on Thursday. 

It was nearly 3 P.M. before the violent thunder and rain ceased, and I left 
the inn of Giorgio Santi, which is one of the cleanest in these parts. Ghisoni 
is placed among such narrow valleys and high overhanging mountains, that 
it has an air of gloom from whichever side you see it. 

The road to Marmano goes up the valley immediately below Monte 
Renoso, the great snowy lines of which stretch away on the right hand, while 
on the left towers a remarkable ridge of stupendous precipices, called by the 
people here Monte Kyrie Eleison, but marked in my map as Serra del Prato; 
these rise out of thick woods of ilex, and are some of the grandest and most 
noble rocks I have seen. As you proceed, always ascending, the valley narrows, 
and at each bend round one of the spurs of Monte Renoso, you advance 
amongst scenery of gloomier grandeur, and at length see the end of the valley 
of Marmano, and its dense forests closed in by the wall of Col de Verde, over 
which lies to-morrow's road. (See Vignette, p. 244.) 

Eight kilometres from Ghisoni the scenery is exceedingly wild : woods 
of chesnut trees of immense size, with oak and ilex, fill up the hollow of the 
valley ; above these are great rocks and splendid pines, the narrowing triangle 
at the head of the gorge being one mass of forest, except a single small 
clearing, where a few buildings point out the site of the summer convict 
establishment. The pines clothe the lofty heights to the very summit, and 

Q 2 



[June 2. 

the vast multitude of stems of these gigantic trees, rising tier above tier in 
the dark forest, on what seems almost a perpendicular screen of cliff, have a 
very striking effect. Beautiful, too, though in miniature, are the crimson fox- 
gloves that edge and overhang the precipices, along which the road runs, 
glowing and gleaming above the dark abyss below. 

By the time I reach the end of this second part of to-day's journey — the 
scenery of which is throughout of a severe and gloomy character — it is 6 P.M. 


At the eleventh kilometre from Ghisoni you suddenly come on a series of 
barracks, standing on terraces one above another, and these, which are for 
the convicts, are the only dwellings in this grim solitude, the house of 
the doctor, the pavilion of M. le Directeur, and some other offices ex- 
cepted. Here — for I had sent on by Flora and C 0- my letter from M. Mattei 
— the doctor of the establishment, M. Casanova, comes out to meet me, 
having already heard from M. le Directeur at Casabianda that I should be 
here to-day. 

Dr. Casanova is most polite and hospitable, but as the pavilion oc- 
cupied by M. Beureville when here is being enlarged, I am sorry that I 
am the cause of putting the worthy doctor and his family to some incon- 
venience. He and Madame, however, make me and my servant share their 


evening meal pleasantly enough, and their small children are an intelligent 
and nice little lot. 

The arrangements for the night are not so easy ; in vain I assure these 
good people that my camp bed is sufficient for me anywhere, and that 
my servant would be content with a blanket on the floor. A friendly quarrel 
takes place on the subject, and ultimately nothing can prevent their turning 
out of a small room, or rather closet, and giving it up for my use, the 
whole family crowding themselves into the remaining two chambers the 
house contains. There is just space to insert my camp bed, when put up in 
one corner, between piles of boxes, groceries, &c, any of which I positively 
refuse to allow of being moved, and the Suliot occupies a shelf on the other 
side of the room. 

At night the little house is closely barred and watched by the armed 
guardiani of this prison in a forest. 

June 3. — A strange and romantic place is the forest penitencier of 
Marmano ; during the winter the number of convicts remaining here is small ; 
but if Valdoniello through months of deep snow be a dreary spot, what must 
be this remote and solitary place, with no one but condemned criminals as 
neighbours through long nights of gloom ? From half June till October, 
Marmano is enlivened by the migration from the coast of the whole Casa- 
bianda establishment, but at the approach of the cold weather all return to 
the plain. Meanwhile labour goes on always — gardens are made, pines cut 
down and cut up, and if the heart of the desert does not sing for joy, at least 
it resounds with the blows of the hatchet. 

At 5.30 A.M. I take leave of the merry and hospitable Dr. Casanova, and 
walk up the steep zig-zags through the forest of Marmano — occasionally 
visited by Flora to see if I am all safe — to the top of the Col de Verde. 
The road is carried across and across the face of the great heights which 
close in the Marmano valley, always among these columnar pine stems — 
some of them here of extreme size — and in many parts some of the groups 
of rock and verdure are truly magnificent. Tall beech woods form the upper 
part of this forest, which, beautiful as it is, is of limited extent compared with 
those of Aitone or Valdoniello. How beautiful in early morning are these 
great woods ! how deep and solemn are the shadows ! how unbroken the 
silence, except by the cuckoo's note ! nor do I see any live thing all the way 
but the black and orange lizards which here and there cross the good road. 

The Col de Verde, or summit of the forest of Marmano, is reached at 
7.15 (eighty-three kilometres from Ajaccio), and then follows the long descent 
into the great valley of the river Taravo, which (see p. 36) runs below 
Bicchisano to the gulf of Valinco at Porto Polio. For five or six kilometres 
the downward winding road continues to lead through sublime forest scenes, 


but about 8 A.M. the last pines of the Col de Verde forest are passed, and the 
valley becomes wider, opening out into glades of fern and asphodel, with 
woods of ilex at intervals, and an uninterrupted view of verdure and snow- 
capped heights as far as eye can reach — scenes of far too vast a character to 
be reduced or condensed into a picture. Towards the west, the mountains 
sink down in the direction of Bicchisano, and far away in the centre of this 
green landscape is a village I suppose to be Cozzano, but since the Col was 
passed there is no one at hand to give information as I am walking on, 
ahead of the trap, from curve to curve of this serpent-like road. 

The hill-sides become less precipitous and the valley more spacious as I 
proceed, and at 9 A.M., after descending through beautiful woody scenery to 
about the sixteenth kilometre, I wait by a roadside house until Flora and C 0, 
come up, which at length they do, at a pace so slow that something is 
evidently wrong. One of the ponies has lost a shoe, and Domenico having 
left his bag of nails at Vivario orders a halt, and leaving the trap and one 
pony in the care of myself and G., goes with the other and Flora across 
the valley to Commanaccie, on a nail procuring expedition. 

While waiting for the driver's return, some cantonniers come and beg 
me to enter and rest in their little wayside house ; these good people do not 
perceive how much more agreeable it is to sit or lie beneath a chesnut-tree 
contemplating the wide and beautiful landscape, than to encounter the dis- 
agreeables of a close room ; the more so, in the present case, that besides the 
cantonniers there is a party of charcoal-burners, who do not seem to be either 
of the apathetic, or civil and well-bred nature, so characteristic generally of 
these islanders, two or three of them having been closely examining the 
luggage for some time past, and having made themselves not a little dis- 
agreeable. Towards 10 o'clock, however, Domenico returns, and proceeds to 
shoe the pony, by no means assisted in his work by the riotous group about 
him, most of these being " elevated " by drink, and one of them apparently 
an idiot. These fellows profess to help my driver by holding up the pony's 
foot, but in the middle of the shoeing they purposely give it a jerk, and every 
time the shoe comes off again by this manoeuvre, they dance round the 
carriage roaring with drunken laughter ; which game goes on in a very 
irritating fashion, in spite of the cantonniers' interference, so that I fear a 
serious quarrel may ensue. When Domenico's patience is nearly exhausted 
by these practical jokes, it is thought better to drive off with the shoe only 
partly nailed on ; a sign of defeat on our part greeted by loud shouts of 
derision, and especially by the idiot, with the wildest shrieks and gestures. 
I confess I should not have been pleased to have been obliged to pass the 
night with the society I have just left ; nevertheless, this is the one and only 
instance, in two months of Corsican touring, of my having received the least 
molestation, even in the most out-of-the-way places. This vast valley, 








scantily populated above Guitera and Zicavo, leads only to Ghisoni by the 
forests of Verde and Marmano, seems very little frequented, and thus far 
in it I have not seen a single mounted gendarme, who are generally met 
with in pairs from time to time on all the roads. 

At the sixty-sixth kilometre from Ajaccio the road passes through Coz- 
zanOjC) a village of no especial interest ; all the way thither from the scene of 
the horse-shoeing being through a succession of fair landscapes, of beautiful 
woods, and wide spaces of fern with groups of chesnut, oak, and ilex ; and 
then follows a descent for six more kilometres through more cultivated tracts, 
till the river Taravo is crossed, and the road to Zicavo is passed on the left ; 
throughout the latter part of this distance the foliage is most delightful, and 
the scenery about the Taravo bridge might be in the very richest Derby- 
shire or Devonshire valley ; the hills nearer Guitera are to the full as beauti- 
fully wooded as those above the Thames at Clifden. 

At noon, in the midst of this lovely wood and river scenery I come to ten 
or twelve houses by the roadside, one of which is what Domenico has pre- 
viously described as the "bellissimo Hotel de' Bagni di Guitera," a rustic but 
cleanly house, at the back of which are the mineral springs so frequented in 
summer by invalids from all parts of Corsica. This place is about thirty-two 
kilometres from Marmano, and twenty-six from Grosseto ; Zicavo is twelve 
distant. I decide therefore on remaining at these baths to-night, the onward 
road to Grosseto, which crosses a spur of the mountains, being, according to 
Domenico, a steep one ; he, moreover, volunteers if I sleep here to bring me 
to Ajaccio early to-morrow afternoon. Thus Zicavo can well be visited from 
here later in the day, by taking Flora and C ' without luggage up the hill, and 
walking back. 

While breakfast is being prepared, I go to see the mineral springs 
at the back of the hotel, which are very remarkable. A large circular basin 
boils over with the hot water, and the overflow is conducted by pipes to a 
row of log barracks or huts used as private baths ; for one of these you 
pay five soldi twenty-five centesimi ; but if you are economically inclined, 
you may bathe gratis in an open public reservoir close to the main springs. 
To me, this water, which resembles that of Harrowgate, and has an ancient 
decayed-egg flavour, was disgusting ; but I am assured that you come to like 
it very much if you will only persevere in drinking it ; and, certainly, some 
persons whom I saw, quaffed whole tumblers of it with great apparent relish. 

The people of the inn — at the risk of repetition, I must state that they 
were thoroughly obliging folk — gave me an exceptionally good breakfast, served 
by a damsel very different to those who usually attend on the Diligence 
passengers in the Corsican inns, and whose face, without being absolutely 
handsome, was very pretty and full of expression, of intelligence and sweet- 

(') Cozzano, whose inhabitants love to beg, exceptional in Corsica. — Gallcili, p. 216. 


ness. When breakfast was ready, there was a stew, which I observed my 
servant regarding uneasily, for it did not seem to be hare, and was certainly 
not fowl— " Scusate," said the polite waitress, apologetically, " questo piatto e 
— o scusate! — di quell' animale nero — scusate! — Please to excuse — this dish 
is — oh please excuse! — that black animal — excuse !"(*) More could not be 
said had the object been a cat, whereas it was sucking-pig ; and on bringing 
a dish of roast meat to table, there were renewed apologies — " Vostro perdono 
davvero! bisogna scusare si sa — quest' e il parte di dietro della stessa piccola 
bestia nera ! — really I beg pardon — excuse it, you know — this is the hinder 
part of the same little black beast!" Notwithstanding all these apologies, 
none were needed, for the little black beast was excellent both stewed and 
roasted ; some apple-fritters also were admirable ; and, though the good cheese 
of Balagna is not found in these parts, the wine was excellent ; about which, 
when I had enquired if they had any good here, the polite reply had been, 
" not any worthy of your merit, but some we hope you may find drinkable." 

This very rustic hotel has many rooms above the ground floor ; you 
ascend by ladder-staircases to the upper chambers ; all coarsely whitewashed 
and as nearly unfurnished as may be ; yet there is a respect for cleanliness 
everywhere visible about the house, the floors and passages are clean, and 
the whole rural establishment prepossessing, though humble. Round the 
house — now that one is no longer at Cap Corse or Balagna — loiterers, clad 
in the usual black velveteen, are not lacking, and stare in at the window 
fixedly. And, as usual, when the carnage stops at such houses, a small crowd 
of children swarm into and take possession of the empty vehicle. 

The usual afternoon storm and rain having come on, it is 3.30 P.M. before 
I can start off from Zicavo, the " woody places " of this lovely valley being 
all fresh and odorous of clematis and honeysuckle. At 4, having retraced 
the road of this morning for a few kilometres, a Route Forestiere leaves the 
Ajaccio highway and winds up the side of a deep gorge, where great ches- 
nut and ilex woods are the chief characteristic, and the villages or communes 
of Zicavo are thereafter constantly in sight. They may be described as 
standing in a vast wooded amphitheatre or hollow in the great Incudine 
mountain range, the plain or plateau of Coscione being immediately beyond 
the highest summits which tower over the villages, below more distant crags 
and precipices also partially wooded. 

The wide space of rich foliage is brightened by scattered houses gleaming 
among the woods on the hill-side ; and in the principal hamlet there seem 
some good houses as well as a rather picturesque white church ; there, too, 
Domenico points out the Casa Abbatucci. The great ravine and river far 
below are full of beauty, and all the rocky descent to the roaring stream is 

0) [Pig (porco) is never mentioned in Italy by polite folk without an apology, and as all, or nearly 
all Italian pigs are black, it is called "animale nero." — E. L.] 


clothed with a growth of magnificent chesnut and ilex ; yet, on so large a 
scale is the scenery, that it would be by no means easy to portray Zicavo as 
a whole, notwithstanding the great beauty of its position. All this, however, 
I scarcely saw more of than in my approach to the villages, for, unfortunately, 
violent rain and thunder recommenced after I had sent back Flora and C° to 
Guitera ; so that after part of the afternoon had been passed in shelter below 
some rocks, it became too late in the day to advance farther, and I had to 
make the best of my way back to the Bagni di Guitera. 

As I returned to the hotel after the failure of my Zicavo exploit, the beau- 
tiful landscape round it was alive with flocks of sheep and goats (all of course 
black) going up to the mountains for the summer; some of the shepherds and 
their families were as picturesque as Corsican peasants can be — which in these 
our days is not saying much, since their old costume, the pointed cap, gaiters, 
&c, has ceased out of the land. Many scenes in the deep hollows of the 
Taravo continually remind me of leafy glen-scenery in Yorkshire or Devon- 
shire ; perhaps the bridge near Guitera, with its hanging fern and drooping 
alders, its rocks and foaming river, is one of the loveliest points in this 
picturesque neighbourhood. 

Flora, this being the last day of dining in Corsican rural inns, is invited to 
dinner — most amiable and intelligent of " small spotty dogs." Afterwards-, 
the rest of the evening was passed in describing the cities of Europe to the 
pretty daughter of the house, who, notwithstanding her mother's summons, 
lingered to listen to details of outer-world novelties until the call had been 
thrice repeated. 

June 4. — I rise at 4 A.M., and Flora and C 0, are off by 5 from the clean 
little humble hotel, whose managers are the civillest of people. The Hotel 
Guitera, kept by Ventura Bozzi, is worth a longer visit, for it is a pleasant 
and quiet halting-place in the midst of exquisite scenery. 

The drive from the baths to the main Ajaccio and Bonifacio road, by 
Santa Maria Zicche d'Ornano, (') is one of the most enchanting in all Corsica. 

(*) My journey over the mountains was very entertaining. I passed some immense ridges and vast 
woods. At Bastelica, where there is a stately spirited race of people. . . At Ornano I saw the ruins 
of the seat where the great Sampiero had his residence. — Boswell. 

Sta. M. d'Ornano is a little village surrounded by mountains. I slept there in the tower of Vanina, 
a sort of fort, and the highest house in Santa Maria. The ruins of a castle of Sampiero are near S. M. 
d'Ornano, and of the chapel, separated from the castle by a field, across which Sampiero did not scruple 
to hear, or rather see, the mass performed from his window. — Valery, i. , p. 193. 

This was the native country of the fair Vannina, and there stands the high brown turretted house 
which belonged to her, picturesquely situated on an eminence commanding the valley. Near it are per- 
ceived the ruins of a castle built by Sampiero, and a chapel in its vicinity where he heard mass. He is 
said to have contented himself with looking out of the window of his castle when mass was said. He 
built the castle in the year 1554. — Gregorovius, p. 411. 

Opposite the ruined house of Vannina Ornano, the wife of Sampiero, there stands a half-destroyed 
chapel, with a large door. Tradition says it was built by order of Sampiero ; and that from his house 
he assisted at the sacrifice of the mass ; although some hundreds of metres distant, he could see the 
priest officiating at the altar. — Galletti, p. 152. 



[June 4. 

There is a second road along the southern side of this great valley, termi- 
nating at Bicchisano ; but that can scarcely be so beautiful, since it does 
not include the variety of crossing the mountain spurs that form one of the 
most charming parts of the northern line of route. The Route Forestiere to 
Grosseto soon turns off to the right, and rises gradually by pleasant lanes 
among wooded and " maquis "-covered tracts, through landscape which at this 
hour is indescribably lovely, and constantly recalls the best and fairest 
distances of Claude Lorraine's paintings. After yesterday's rain, every dark 


chesnut-leaf sparkles with moisture, and it is impossible to conceive more 
beautiful spots than there are at every turn of this road, either looking back 
eastward to the heights of Monte Incudine above Zicavo, or westward to the 
long long lines of the valley of the Taravo, fading away into the hills near 
Sollacaro on the horizon. 

Corra is the first village passed, and one where a landscape painter might 
pass a summer with delight. Then another hamlet (Frasseto) with slopes 
of immense fern — shading chesnut-trees, ilex of astonishing beauty, and vast 
walnut-trees ; and after this follows a long and steep ascent — Domenico was 
quite right in dissuading me from attempting it late yesterday afternoon — the 
top of which was reached at 8 A.M. Then the road dips down into a deep. 


recess of mountains, and, circling round spur after spur, gradually descends to 
Santa Maria through a succession of villages — Sevato, Quasquara, and others 
— all full of picturesque beauty, not so much owing to any charm of archi- 
tecture, as to the combination of the houses with foliage and distance. At 
about three kilometres before reaching the main Ajaccio route imperiale, at 
the foot of the ascent to Col S. Giorgio, a branch road turns off to the village 
of Santa Maria Zicche, where there is a church with an extremely picturesque 
campanile ; and thus, a short distance farther, always passing through 
beautiful scenes of graceful woody landscape, I come for the third time to 
Grosseto, at the seventeenth kilometre from Ajaccio, by 9.30 A.M., and once 
more go to the pleasant little village inn of Madame Lionardi. Undoubtedly 
the drive hither from Guitera ranks among the first for lovely scenery in all 
this beautiful island. 

The little village of Grosseto is all astir, and something is happening, for 
the roadside is full of groups of gendarmes. Madame Lionardi explains, 
with many apologies for not being able to give me breakfast in the sitting- 
room, that all the house is taken for the General commanding the troops in 
the arrondissement of Ajaccio, and for other officials, whose luggage is 
momentarily arriving, on account of a review of gendarmerie, a conscription, 
&c. But the obliging family of the hotel soon clear out another room, and I 
occupy an hour till breakfast comes, by drawing some of the grand ilex trees 
close to the house. This place, and indeed all the valley of Grosseto, and of 
the Taravo, is truly one for a painter to sojourn in who desires to study the 
evergreen oak in its most luxuriant growth and finest form. After this, a fine 
dish of trout, good cutlets, and superb broccio, add one more to the pleasant 
memories already registered of the Hotel des Amis. 

The son of Madame Lionardi tells me that a brother of Mr. B. arrived at 
Olmeto about a week ago, and that the dying man was then removed to 
Ajaccio, where he died on the following day, and that the day before yester- 
day his body was embarked for Marseilles ; news which, after what I had 
seen of the poor invalid's condition when I was last in Olmeto, was to me no 

I give an hour to a walk to Santa Maria Zicche, to obtain a drawing (of 
the picturesque campanile there), probably the last I shall make in Corsica. 
(An old woman by the roadside asks me for " qual cosa," and this is only the 
third instance of begging I have known in my eight weeks' tour.) All along 
this part of the valley there have of late been very violent hail-storms, and 
the vines, they tell me, have been greatly damaged. 

Returning to Grosseto by 1 P.M., Flora and C 0, are ready, and I leave the 
village as the arrivals of gendarmes, walking, riding, and driving, continually 
increase the hubbub ; soon we have trotted up the Col St. Giorgio, from which 
I take a last look at these beautiful scenes. How lovely and green is the wide 


space of hill and dale ! Addio, for the third time, noble and verdant valleys 
of the Taravo ! 

Soon the " maquis "-grown crescent of hills beyond the Col is passed ; 
then the familiar village of Cauro, and the far view of Ajaccio is seen on the 
horizon ; the run down to the Piano dell' Oro follows ; and I am soon once 
more in Ajaccio, where the squadron of ironclads enliven the bay, if, indeed, 
any place may be said to be enlivened by those specimens of naval archi- 
tecture. My journeys in Corsica are ended ; much more there is to see, 
but time is up, and the glass of Corsican travel is run out ; close, therefore, 
the note- book of research, and lock it up in the closet of resignation. 

After the fresh mountain air how hot does Ajaccio now seem ! and above 
all the small rooms of the Ottavi Hotql ! 

Flora and C°- are dismissed with esteem. No better nor more careful 
coachman could be found anywhere than the youth Domenico, who, by-the- 
bye, is an amateur, having, as he told my servant, property to the amount of 
20,000 francs, and who drives about to see the world by choice — " per piacer 
di veder il mondo, fuori di Corsica no — ma tutta l'isola." Farewell spotty 
little beast of excellent qualities — Flora, best of dogs ! 

June 5. — This day has passed— first, in finishing drawings of the town at 
sunrise ; secondly, in packing my 350 drawings and in purchasing gourds 
and photographs ; thirdly, in making PP.C. calls at the Prefecture and 
elsewhere, and in wandering among the beautiful wild olive and cactus-grown 
dells beyond the Cours Grandval. In the evening I dine at M. le Prefet's. 
Admiral Jurien de la Graviere and others are there. 

Among other matters I hear that the L. K.'s were in Corsica last winter, 
and that my old Abruzzo companion in 1843, C. A. K., was also here. 

June 6. — A day of last packings. In the afternoon, at 4.30 P.M., I left the 
worthy Ottavis and the Hotel de Londres, and came on board the Insulaire 
steamer, getting the identical berth I came in two months ago. The two 
trotting poodles were also performing as in times past. 

At 6 I make a last drawing of the head of the gulf; beautifully clear and 
rosily coloured at sunset were the cliffs above Sari, and the snows of Monte 
d'Oro ; gorgeous beyond description the hues on the sea as the sun went down 
behind the rocky islet gates of the gulf. At 6.30 Miss C. and other returning 
travellers had come on board, and at 7.30 we started, and soon, beyond the lies 
Sanguinaires, lost sight of the gulf of Ajaccio and the wild mountain ranges. 

As night came on, the headlands about the gulf of Sagona were the last I 
could trace of Corsica, and next morning by 9 we were in the harbour of 
Nice. Soon I was once more at Cannes, and looking at the ever-beautiful 
Esterelles, than which there are many grander forms, but few more delicately 
perfect and lovely. 



[In t order to avoid the insertion of too many notes in the text of the 
" Journal in Corsica," I have thrown into a single chapter some necessary 
and desirable information on various subjects connected with the island 
— its natural formation, history, the manners of its inhabitants, &c. The 
whole is given in the shape of notes, to each of which is appended the 
authority from which it is borrowed. — E. L.] 

Corsica is the third largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily and Sardinia being both PHYSICAL 
of greater size. It is situated between the 41 ° and 43 of N. latitude, and between the GEOGRAPHY. 
6° and 7 of E. longitude. The distance from the coast of Italy is 56 miles, from that of RTC - 

France, 90. Its length is 115 miles, and its greatest breadth about 54. Corsica is a mere 
mass of Alpine ridges rising out of the sea like a vessel or the roof of a house. The moun- 
tains attain their highest elevation in the centre. 

There are two mountain ranges which form the island, running longitudinally through it 
from north to south. The eastern range commences at Cape Corso, a narrow longitudinal 
mountain, some 3,000 feet high, and more than twenty miles long, the base of which is 
bathed by the sea both east and west. This range is secondary, calcareous, and descends to 
the south at a moderate elevation. The second range is primitive, granitic ; it com- 
mences near the west coast at Isola Rossa, rises rapidly to a height of 8,000 and 9,000 feet, 
and runs through the island down to its southern extremity. 

The different geological nature of these two mountain ranges has, in the course of 
countless ages, modified the character of the eastern and western shores. 

The eastern range, composed, as was stated, of secondary, calcareous rocks, is more 
easily disintegrated and washed away by the action of the elements. Owing to this cause, 
the rivers which descend from their sides, and form the central regions of the island, through 
clefts which these calcareous mountains present, have deposited at their base alluvial plains 
of considerable extent. Through these rich alluvial plains several large streams meander to 
reach the sea. This they accomplish with difficulty, owing to the lowness of the shore and 
to the prevalence of the scirocco or south-east wind, which constantly throws up large 
masses of sand at their mouths. Hence the formation, along the eastern shore, of large salt- 
water ponds, into some of which the rivers empty themselves. Under the burning glare of a 
Mediterranean sun, these terrestrial conditions, large ponds of brackish water, marshes, and 
rich alluvial plains liable to periodical overflow, embody all the elements calculated to 
produce malaria of the most deadly character. By such malaria is this region rendered 
all but uninhabitable for half the year. 

The western, primary, granitic range of mountains is the real backbone of the island. It 
must have been thrown up long before the secondary eastern range, is very much higher, and 
is covered in some regions with eternal snow. This range is jagged and irregular in its 


outline. It throws out high granitic spurs towards the western sea, which jut into deep water 
and form deep bays or gulfs, as is usual with primary rocks. These spurs divide the 
western side of the island into deep wide picturesque valleys. At the bottom of each 
valley runs a brawling stream, which carries to the sea the watershed of the high snow- 
clad mountains, and forms an alluvial plain of greater or less extent as it nears the coast. 
Disintegration, however, during the geological period, has been slow, owing to the granitic 
character of the mountains, and the rivers have carried less soil to the sea than those of the 
eastern or calcareous side of the island. The alluvial plains are consequently all but 
confined to the mountain valleys, and the sea is very deep near the shore. On this side of 
the island are all the natural ports, with the exception of that of Porto Vecchio on the south- 
east coast. Thus there are no ponds, the marshes are small in extent, limited by the 
immediate vicinity of the outlet of the rivers, and malaria and intermittent fever are com- 
paratively, but slightly felt. — Beiinet, p. 226. 

The island of Corsica is divided by a chain of mountains which runs from north to south. 
The western part presents a granitic formation ; the eastern is calcareous and schistose. 
Three different climates are distinguishable in this island. Near the sea-shore the severity 
of winter is never felt, even in January and February ; throughout the greater part of the 
island, where the population is most numerous, these are the coldest months, and this 
may be called the second climate. A third exists in the high mountains, but in those parts 
there are no inhabitants, except in some villages, such as Vivario, the Niolo, Bocognano, &c. 
— Galletti, p. 33. 

CLIMATE. The very glorious vegetation of the island is favoured by the climate. The Corsican 

climate has three zones of temperature, graduated according to the elevation of the ground. 
The first climatic zone rises from the sea level to a height of 1,903 feet ; the second, from 
thence to the height of 6,398 feet ; the third, thence to the summit of the mountains. 

The first zone, namely, the sea-coast in general, is as warm as the parallel coasts of Italy 
and Spain. It has, properly speaking, only two seasons, spring and summer ; the thermo- 
meter rarely descends here two or three degrees below the freezing point, and then only for a 
few hours. On all the coasts the sun is warm, even in January, but the nights and the shade 
are cool at every season. The sky is overclouded only at intervals ; the south-east wind 
alone, the harsh scirocco, brings prolonged fogs, which are dispersed again by the violent 
south-wester or libeccio. Upon the moderate cold of January follows soon a dog-day heat 
of eight months, and the temperature rises from 50 to 72 , and even 90 in the shade. It 
is a misfortune to the vegetation when it does not rain in March or April, and no unfrequent 
case either, but the Corsican trees have generally hard and tough leaves, which resist 
drought, as the oleander, myrtle, cystus, lentiscus, and oleaster. In Corsica, as in all hot 
climates, the watery and shady districts of the levels are almost pestilential ; it is impossible 
to walk there in the evening without catching a long and severe fever, which, if total change 
of air be not resorted to, may end in dropsy or death. 

The second climatic zone of the island corresponds to the climate of France, especially 
of Burgundy and Brittany. The snow that appears there in November sometimes lasts 
twenty days ; but, remarkably enough, it does no damage to the olive up to the elevation of 
3,806 feet (1,160 metres), but renders it yet more fruitful. The chesnut appears to be 
the characteristic tree of this zone ; for it stops at a height of 6,398 feet, and then yields to 
the green oaks, pines, beeches, box, and juniper. In this climate the majority of the people 
live in scattered villages, on mountain slopes, and in valleys. 

The third climate is cold and stormy, as that of Norway, during eight months in 
the year. The only inhabited places in this zone are the Niolo, and the two forts of 



Vivario and Vizzavona. Beyond these inhabited places, the eye can discern no other 
vegetation than pines clinging to gray rocks. There dwell the vulture and the wild 
sheep, and there is the storehouse and birthplace of the many streams that rush down 
to the plains below. 

Corsica may thus be considered as a pyramid rising in gradations of three horizontal 
steps, of which the lowest is warm and moist, the upmost cold and dry, and the middle one 
partakes of both qualities. — Gregorovius, p. 121. 

The air is fresh and healthful, except in one or two places, which are moist, and where 
the air, especially in summer, is suffocating and sickly ; but in general the Corsicans breathe 
a pure atmosphere, &c. — Boswell, p. 15. 

Like other mountainous countries, Corsica is exceedingly picturesque To the 

agriculturist who estimates a district by its production, the man who looks at a river with a 
view to inland navigation, and to the effeminate traveller, who judges of a country by the 
qualities of its roads and hotels, the rugged mountains, the rich but neglected valleys, 
the boisterous torrents, and the trackless forests of Corsica would afford no gratification ; 
but to him who can associate and almost identify himself with nature, the island affords a 
treat of no ordinary kind. — Benson, p. 35. 

Altitude of the Mountain Range in Corsica, from South to North. 


Monte della Trinita 
,, delP Incudine 
,, Renoso - - 
,, Cardo - - - 
,, Rotondo - - 
„ d'Oro - - - 
,, Cinto - - - 

Punta della Torricella 



- 2 97 " 


- 2,056 - 


- 2,257 - 


- 2,500 - 


- 2,764 - 


- 2,652 - 


- 2,816 - 


542 - i,779- 

Punta di Muro 
Monte Cervello ■ 
Capo Linscinosa 
„ Vitullo - • 
,, di Vegno • 
Monte Asto - 
Guipetta - - 

Metres. Feet. 
846 - 2 446 




4,i95 • 

1,402 - 4,602 
744 " 2,440 

Metres. Feet. 

Castel Vecchio - - - 578 - 1,897. 

Punta del Luogo Niello 1,123 - 3,687. 

Monte Cerio - -. - - 1,072 - 3,519 

,, Artica - - - - 2,440 - 8,010 

,, Conia - - - - 1,984 - 6,510 

,, San Pietro - - 1,659 " 5,445- 

,, Padro - - - - 2,458 - 8,069. 

Grandchamps, p. 5. 

The eastern part of Corsica possesses but few ports — the cove of Barcaggio, the port of 
Macinaggio, that of Porticciolo, and the cove of Erbalunga in Cap Corse ; the port of 
Bastia, that of Favone, the gulf of Porto Vecchio, and the port of Bonifacio at the extreme 
south-east point of the island. On the contrary the north-west, west, and south-west coasts 
being all indented, form several gulfs and ports, as, the little port of Centuri, the gulf of St. 
Florent, the port of lie Rousse, the gulf and port of Calvi, the gulfs of Rivellata, Crovani, 
Galeria, Focolare d'Elba, Girolata, Porto, Chiomi, Pero, Sagona, Liscia, Lava, Provencal, 
Ajaccio, Valinco, Mortoli, Roccaspina, Figari, and Ventilegne, and the ports of Portobello, 
Propriano, and Campo Moro. — Galletti, p. 36. 



The rivers of Corsica, or rather the torrents, are the Golo, which receives the streams of 
the Asco, the Tartagine, Casaluna, and others, flows into the sea twenty kilometres from 
Bastia, near the ruins of Mariana. The Tavignano receives the waters of the Restonica, 
and, as the Vecchio, the Corsigliese, Tagnone, &c, flows eastward to the sea at Aleria. 
The Liamone flows into the sea on the west side of the island near the gulf of Sagona, 
the Bevinco, Fiumalto, and Fiumorbo. 






rhcies of the e 


Diana . . . 


Chiurlino . 


Urbino . . 


Palo . . . . 


Balistro . , 


Taravo . . 


570 hectares, anciently port of Aleria. 

„ anciently port of Biguglia. 

„ in the plain of Aleria. 

„ in that of Fiumorbo. 

„ in the gulf of Santa Manza. 

„ near the river of that name. 

Galletti, p. 14, &c. 

lakes. There are several small lakes of fresh water in the mountainous region of the island ; 

shut up, as it were, in the hollows of granite and porphyry, they are mostly inaccessible. 
The largest of these lakes is situated at the foot of Monte Rotondo, by which name it is 
called ; it has a superficies of seven hectares, and in it the torrent of the Vecchio takes its 
rise. Of less extent than the lake of Monte Rotondo, the Lake Nino (or Ino) adorns one of 
the ends of the Campotile, and at the opposite end of the same plain is the Lake Creno. 
The Monte Renoso also contains some lakes, the Upper and Lower Rino, the Bastani, the 
Vetelacca, and the Bracco ; this last-mentioned lake is almost always frozen. — Galletti, 
pp. 14, 18, 36, &c. 






The roads of Corsica are divided into three principal systems : — First, those which unite 
the eastern and western coasts ; secondly, those which follow the shore and serve succes- 
sively to each basin as its communication ; thirdly, the route forestiere, traced along the 
principal water-courses, and opening out on to the most frequented ports. 

The road which goes round Corsica is divided into four parts — that from Ajaccio to 
Bonifacio traverses the valleys of the Gravona, the Prunelli, the Taravo, the Rizzanese, and 
the small secondary valleys comprised between Sartene' and Bonifacio, touching at the ports 
of Ajaccio, Propriano, and Bonifacio, and climbing successively at great heights the edges 
which separate the basins of the Prunelli, the Taravo, Rizzanese, and Ortolo, goes through 
Grosseto, Olmeto, and Sarte'ne', and serves the southern part of all the western slope. 

The road from Bonifacio to Macinaggio follows the eastern coast in all its length. Less 
irregular than the last, it presents, nevertheless, several inclines. — Grandchamfis, p. 103. 

In the first years after the conquest of the island by the French, the government made a 
carriage-road from Bastia to Corte and Ajaccio. During the Republic, the First Empire, 
and the Restoration, the roads were not enough attended to ; but with the reign of King 
Louis Philippe, the regeneration of Corsica commenced, and under that of the Emperor 
Napoleon III. works have been accomplished, which, to the older natives of the island, seem 
to be dreams rather than realities. — Galletti, p. (53. 

The coasts of Corsica are lighted by five lighthouses of the first class, and by four 
lanterns or beacons. The lighthouses are placed at the point of Cap Corse (on the island 
of la Geraglia) ; at the point of la Revellata, near Calvi ; on the Grand Sanguinaire, near 
Ajaccio ; at the point of Pertusato, near Bonifacio ; and at Porto Vecchio, on the point ot 
la Chiappa. The lanterns are at the entrances of the ports of lie Rousse, Ajaccio, Bonifacio, 
and Bastia.— Gra7idchai7ips ■, p. 97. 

The sulphurous waters of Corsica are Pietrapola, Puzzichello, Guitera, Caldaniccia, and 
Guagno. Orezza is the principal ferruginous source. — Galletti, p. 20. 

[In the Abbd Galletti's book may be found a very interesting and detailed account of the 
mineral waters of Corsica, given by M. le Docteur Constantine James. Those of Pietrapola 
were anciently known, as there are still vestiges of Roman baths to be ceen there. These 
waters are spoken of with the highest commendation. Doctor J. augurs a great future for 
Guite'ra, and states that the source of hot springs now in use forms but a small fraction of 



the mineral riches of this locality. Valuable information on the subject of malaria, or other 
causes of unhealthiness, in various parts of Corsica, may be found in Dr. Bennet's " Winter 
in South of Europe," and in a paper communicated by him to the Lancet, Aug. 1, 1868.] 

The most populous of the Corsican towns are found on the shore, near the mouths of 
streams. Bastia, not far from the Golo ; St. Florent, at the mouth of the Aliso. Others 
probably existed at the mouth of the Ostriconi, Liamone, and Tavignano. These were all 
destroyed in the middle ages by Mediterranean pirates, and their inhabitants, seeking shelter 
in the mountains, founded new villages among inaccessible rocks. The successive migrations 
from the sea-side to the higher districts may be easily fixed ; those from the Ostriconi 
founded Palasca ; those from the Osari built Belgodere ; those from the mouth of the 
Fiume-Secco, Calenzana ; and everywhere the inhabitants of the mountains own, at the 
present day, the plains watered by the streams at the sources of which they settled. When 
Corsica ceased to be desolated by the incursions of pirates, it was no longer possible to 
reconstruct the villages which once stood on the shore ; for the plains, having become 
marshy, were uninhabitable, and as they are at this day, unhealthy and uncultivated, hence 
all the produce of the valleys, which should have been shipped from the shore to the continent, 
has to be taken up to the villages, to be transported later to a place of embarkation. — 
Grandchamps, p. n. # 



Like the agriculture of Corsica, its manufactures are in a very sorry state. They are COMMERCE, 
confined to the most indispensable wants of trade and nourishment ; the women almost ETC - 

everywhere weave the coarse brown Corsican cloth (panno Corso) also called pelonej the 
herdsmen make cheese and the cheese-cake broccio ; salt works there are only in the gulf of 
Porto Vecchio. Sardines, tunny, and coral, are taken on many parts of the coast, but the 
fisheries are conducted with no vigour. The commerce of Corsica is likewise very incon- 
siderable. The chief export is oil, of which the island possesses such a quantity that, with 
more extended cultivation, it could produce it to the value of sixty millions of francs ; but 
also lemons, wines, pulse, chesnuts, fresh and salt fish, timber, dyes, hides, coral, marble, 
and manufactured tobacco, especially cigars, for which the leaves are imported. The chief 
imports are corn, grain, rice, sugar, coffee, cattle, silk, cotton, linseed, leather, iron-ore, and 
hardware, tiles, glass, and pottery. The chief commerce of the island belongs to the ports of 
Bastia, Ajaccio, I sola Rossa, and Bonifazio. — Gregorovius, p. 127, &c. 

The position of Corsica between France and Italy, its climate, its fertility, the brilliant 
qualities of its people, unite to claim attention to this privileged spot. Unhappily, labour has 
not as yet called forth its natural riches ; agriculture is neglected ; its streams descend from 
mountains to feed infectious marshes in the plains ; its ports are sand choked ; its coasts 
remain desert and abandoned ; rivalries are transmitted from father to son for ages ; and the 
population, idle in the midst of universal progress, seems condemned to a fatal immobility. 
What does this country need to give it movement and life — to develop in it the love of work 
—to extinguish that thirst for vengeance which so frequently provokes murder and 
conflagration ? Throughout three centuries the wisest edicts remain without force against 
the rooted prejudices of a people. Encouragement, repression, severity, all have failed before 
the proud contempt of the Corsicans for agriculture. It is necessary, in order to draw Corsica 
from its isolation, to bring the island more in communication with the neighbouring continent. 
Then, and not till then, will prejudices fall, and the face of the country be changed. . . . 
The hour is come for Corsica to join in the European movement of progress.— Grandchamps, 
Introduction, p. vi. 

The greater number of the Basins or valleys of Corsica are independent of each other, and 
at first sight it would seem that in the interior of the island there exists no centre of action 









sufficiently powerful to react on the whole country, and to unite the population of the eastern 
with those of the western sides. This fact explains the history of Corsica, the enmities of 
great families established in separate Basins separated by high mountains, and the fruitless 
attempts of the Corsicans to establish their nationality. 

Immense riches, vegetable and mineral, lie concealed in Corsica ; and it is necessary to 
study the different Basins of the island to discover the best mode of favouring their natural 
development, and the part each have to play in the general regeneration of the country. 

The colonisation of Corsica by France will commence naturally by the Basins of the 
Western watershed. All are important, but that which permits the easiest communication 
between the two mountain slopes of Corsica is the Basin of Nebbio, which opens on the 
Gulf of S. Florent, and is at once the nearest to France and Italy, and one of the richest 
and best cultivated of the island. 

The Basins on the eastern side of the island contain, on a larger scale, the same elements 
of riches and the same causes of unhealthiness. Everywhere there are uncultivated plains 
devastated by the flocks, and burned by the wild carelessness of the shepherds. Death 
seems to reign in the midst of these desert shores, although Nature, prodigally generous to 
their inhabitants, places every gift at their disposal. 

It is requisite, in order to colonise Corsica, that the population now fixed in the moun- 
tains should be attracted to the shore ; that those towns which are called by their position to 
exercise a decided influence over the great divisions of Corsica should be developed ; that a 
new town, destined to become the pivot of Corsican interests, should be founded in the heart 
of the country ; and that a railway should be opened between the eastern and western sides 
to unite all the towns, and facilitate their relations with the neighbouring continent. — 
Grandchamps, pp. 4, 6, 16, 33, 49, &c. 

[Referring to the influence which the isolation necessarily produced by the physical 
formation of the country must needs have upon the character of its inhabitants, M. Grand- 
champs points out the difficulty of fixing on a central site from which to govern the island, 
and insists on the necessity of founding a town in the heart of the country, to be equally 
accessible from the shore and from its interior. This spot, from which the work of renovation 
and colonisation should be commenced, he maintains must be that nearest to Marseilles and 
Toulon, and at the same time the one by which communication with the centre and eastern 
side of Corsica can most easily be attained. lie Rousse, he asserts, unites these two 
conditions, as it is at once the port nearest to France, and to the lowest pass over the 
mountains which divide Corsica into two parts. He therefore suggests that a railway be 
formed from lie Rousse to Bastia and Porto Vecchio, by the valley of the Ostriconi, the 
Col di Pietralba, the valley of the Golo, and the eastern plain, by which, in eight hours at 
most, the centres of population most remote from lie Rousse would be reached. For details 
as to the choice of lie Rousse as a starting-point for a railway, the selection of Ponte alia 
Leccia as a central site for a new town, and the establishment of French colonies at the 
mouths of the rivers Ostriconi, Sagona, &c, and at Solenzara, Aleria, and other places, see 
various parts of M. Grandchamps' work.] 

history. A colony of Phocseans from Asia Minor are the first inhabitants of Corsica whom history 

mentions ; these, or the Carthaginians who succeeded them, founded Alalia, or Aleria. 
Carthage conquered by Rome, Corsica became Roman, and new cities were built by Marius 
at Mariana, and by Sylla at Aleria. 

On the division of the Roman power, Corsica was attached to the eastern empire, and so 
continued till A.D. 460, when the Vandals conquered it under Genseric ; after their expulsion 
by Belisarius and Narses, it continued a dependency of the Greek empire, as part of the 
Exarchate of Ravenna, until 750, when it was taken by the Saracens. These were finally 
defeated early in the ninth century under Charlemagne, and Corsica was granted to Boniface, 
Count of Tuscany, whose descendants for some time governed the island. 


About the year 1000 a succession of feudal lords became the rulers ot Corsica ; but in 
1077 these were opposed by the people, who rose against them, and gave themselves to the 
Popes, who, in 108 1 (Urban II.), transferred the sovereignty of the island to the Bishop of 
Pisa. The Republic of Genoa protested against this act, and in 11 33 Innocent II. divided 
the Corsican bishoprics equally between Pisa and Genoa, an arrangement which by no 
means pacified the island, and the two Republics continued to make it their field of battle 
until, in 1347, the contest was ended by the capture of Giudice della Rocca and the defeat 
of the Pisans, when Corsica fell under the yoke of the Genoese, who thenceforth held it for 
400 years. 

The government of the Pisans in Corsica was mild and just ; that of the Genoese is, on 
the contrary, accused of having been always the opposite, nor do they appear ever to have 
been regarded by the Corsicans with any feelings but those of hatred. 

Early in the fifteenth century, Alfonso of Arragon claimed the island as having been 
granted to Spain by Pope Boniface VIII., but the Spaniards were defeated in 1541, and the 
French, who had intervened, evacuated the island in 1559, leaving Genoa its sole mistress. 

The oppression and cruelty of the Genoese was such that the islanders revolted from 
them in 1564, under Sampiero of Bastelica, and after this rebellion was put down, the 
Republic governed Corsica with unchanged severity until 1729, when, under Ceccaldi and 
Giafferi, an insurrection broke out, which led ultimately to the defeat of the Genoese and 
their final withdrawal from the island. 

Genoa then solicited aid from the Emperor Charles VI., and the troops he sent were 
defeated by the islanders ; and in 1732 a peace was signed between the two parties, of no 
long duration, since war again broke out in 1736, when the Corsicans chose themselves a king 
in Theodore, Baron von Neuhoff. In 1737 the Genoese were again obliged to call for 
assistance, this time from the French, and the war, on the part of the Corsicans against 
them and the Republic of Genoa combined, continued until 1741, when the island submitted 
once more to the Genoese, and the French quitted it. 

Soon, however, under Gaffori and Matra, and later under the great Pasquale Paoli, the 
Corsicans once more rose against their oppressors, and succeeded in nearly wresting the 
island from their hands, except some of the fortresses, which at that time Genoa made over 
to the French. 

Paoli, meanwhile, who ruled the interior of the island from 1755 to 1769, continued to 
make war on the Genoese, and by degrees dispossessed them of their hold in all parts of 
the island, when the Republic at length, finding itself everywhere completely beaten, entered 
into a secret treaty with M. Choiseul, minister of Louis XV., by which all Genoese rights 
over Corsica were formally transferred to the French nation. 

This was in 1768, and thenceforward the French fought with Paoli and the Corsicans 
on their own account alone. Ultimately, after several reverses, they completed the final 
subversion of Corsican liberty at the battle of Ponte Nuovo, May 9, 1769. 

From that time the French supremacy has been acknowledged in Corsica, with the 
exception of the short period, 1794 — 1796, when, after some troubles, during the period 
of the French Revolution, George III. of England was proclaimed King of Corsica, a 
sovereignty which lasted for two years only. 

Since 1796 the dominion of the French has not been disturbed ; and from that date the 
peaceful progress of the island and its population, once so divided and harassed, has been 
ensured and gradually developed. — Benson, Fries, Gregorovius, Grandcha.7nps, <S-v., d^c. 

The Abbe Galletti, speaking of the allegorical figure of Corsica represented, by order of 
Sixtus V., in the Vatican (above the battle of Constantine and Maxentius), speaks of that 
Pope as Corsican by origin, and of his forming a regiment of Corsican guards, &c. 

And it was by the care of this Pontiff that a number of Corsican families, oppressed by 
the Genoese, combined to form a colony, and established themselves in a spot which is stil 

R 2 



called Vallecorsa. This place, in the Rio di Valleffatta, near Anagni and Frosinone, is now 
a little town of 3,500 inhabitants. — Galletti, p. 8. 




Born at Rostino, on April 25, 1725, Pasquale Paoli was second son of Giacinto Paoli, 
one of the leaders of the Corsican people in their last great struggle against the tyranny 
of the Genoese. Compelled by the course of events to retire to Naples in 1739, Giacinto 
Paoli was accompanied by his son Pasquale, who, inheriting his father's talents and 
patriotism, there received a finished education, both civil and military. Being much about 
the court, the young Corsican acquired, with high accomplishments, those polished manners 
for which he was afterwards distinguished, &c. Recalled to Corsica in 1755 to take the 
supreme command of affairs, in consequence of the divisions prevailing among the patriot 
leaders, the expulsion of the Genoese became his first duty ; and he soon succeeded in 
freeing the interior of the island, and confining their occupation to the narrow limits 
of the fortified towns on the coast. His next step was to remodel, or rather to create, the 
civil government ; and in so doing he introduced an admirable form of a representative 
constitution, founded, as far as possible, on old Corsican institutions. It was, in fact, a 
Republic, of which Pasquale Paoli was the chief magistrate and commander of the 
forces. One of the earliest acts of his administration was a severe law for the suppression of 
the bloody practice of Vendetta, followed in course of time by measures for the encourage- 
ment of agriculture, and by the foundation of a university at Corte. With a small squadron 
of ships, which he got together and equipped, he succeeded, after repulsing the Genoese 
fleet, in wresting the island of Capraja from the Republic. Intestine divisions having always 
been the bane of Corsican independence, the party of Matra opposed to Paoli rose in insur- 
rection, and calling in the Genoese to their aid, it was only after a long and bloody struggle 
that Paoli and the nationals became firmly settled in power, and grew in strength, until the 
Genoese found themselves unable to cope with a brave and united people. After some 
further ineffectual attempts, they applied once more to France for succour, and that power, 
by the treaty of Compiegne, 1764, limited the occupation of the strong forts of the island to 
a term of four years. In this position they preserved a strict neutrality, the patriots having 
entire possession of the country, excepting the fortified places, and thus, under the firm and 
active administration of its wise chief, the commonwealth flourished, and the Genoese power 
in Corsica shrunk to nothing. It was at this time that Boswell visited the island, &c. The 
time for the evacuation of Corsica by the French having arrived, they had withdrawn from 
Ajaccio and Calvi, when the Genoese, finding themselves incapable of retaining possession 
of the island, offered to cede their rights to the King of France. In 1768, the Due de 
Choiseul resolved on annexing Corsica to France, and crossed the neutral lines on the eastern 
side of the island. 

Pasquale Paoli and his brother Clement led the people en masse against the threatened 
tyranny, and the French troops were signally defeated at Borgo. But Chauvelin being 
recalled, Comte de Vaux became general, and ultimately 40,000 Frenchmen decided the fate 
of Corsica at Ponte Nuovo in 1769. Pasquale Paoli and Clement Paoli, with 300 followers, 
embarked at Porto Vecchio for England. 

Pasquale Paoli was, and ever will be, the popular hero of the Corsicans. He fought their 
last battles for the national independence ; moulded their wild aspirations for liberty and 
self-government into a constitutional form ; administered affairs unselfishly, purely, justly ; 
encouraged industry, and checked outrage. He was a man of the people, one of themselves, 
and he never forgot it, nor have they. — Forester, pp. 165, 169. 

In his last letter to his friend Padovani, Paoli says, when reviewing his life with humility, 
" I have lived long enough, and could it be granted to me to begin my life again, I would 
decline the boon, unless accompanied by the rational cognition of my past life, to correct the 
errors and follies that have attended it." One of the Corsican exiles announced his death in 


these terms, in a letter to his native country : — " London, June 2, 1807. It is true, alas, that 
the public papers are guilty of no error about the death of the poor General. He lay down 
on Monday, February 2, at half-past eight o'clock in the evening, and at half-past eleven 
o'clock on the night of the following Thursday he died in my arms. He bequeaths to the 
school at Corte, or to the university, an annual salary of ^50 sterling for each of four 
professors ; and a new mastership to the school of Rostino, which is to be established at 
Morosaglia. He was buried on the 13th of February, at St. Pancras, where almost all 
Catholics are interred. His funeral must have cost nearly ,£500. About the middle of April 
last, Dr. Barnabi and I went to Westminster Abbey to find a place where we can erect a 
monument to him, containing his bust." — Gregorovius, p. 236. 

During Paoli's administration, there have been few laws made in Corsica. He mentioned CUSTOMS 
one which he has found very efficacious in curbing the vindictive spirit of the Corsicans. ETC - 

. . . . There was among them a most dreadful species of revenge, called " Vendetta 
trasversa," collateral revenge, which Petrus Cyrnaeus candidly acknowledges. It was this : — 
If a man had received an injury, and could not find a proper opportunity to be revenged on 
his enemy personally, he revenged himself on one of his enemy's relations. So barbarous a 
practice was the source of innumerable assassinations. Paoli, knowing that the point of 
honour was everything to the Corsicans, opposed it to the progress of the blackest of crimes, 
fortified by long habits. He made a law, by which it was provided that this collateral 
revenge should not only be punished with death, as ordinary murther, but the memory of the 
offender should be disgraced for ever by a pillar of infamy. He also had it enacted that the 
same statute should extend to the violations of an oath of reconciliation, once made. — 
Bo swell, p. 338. 

Mothers of families, whose husbands have been assassinated, preserve the dress of the 
deceased until their children grow up to manhood, and then show them the clothes tinged 
with the blood of their fathers, and exhort them to vengeance ; and in dispute with others the 
latter taunt them if they have not revenged themselves. Thus these unhappy children 
have no alternative than to live dishonoured, or to destroy the murderers of their parents, 
and they rush headlong into crime. — Benson. 

[Many interesting particulars relating to criminal trials in Corsica are related by Benson ; 
but none more extraordinary than that of Signor Viterbi, who, himself a judge, was condemned 
to death in 1821 on an accusation of occasioning the assassination of some of the Frediani 
family, between which and his own an implacable animosity existed. Continually professing 
his innocence, and resolved not to suffer the disgrace of a public execution, Viterbi starved 
himself to death, and during the eighteen days which intervened between his first abstinence 
from food and his death, actually registered every change in his physical system with the 
utmost exactness, till, unable to write, he dictated minutely every sign of his approach to 
death, until his decease occurred. " I am about to conclude my days with the peaceful death 
of the just," were among his last words. " The few moments which I have to live are passing 
away placidly. . . . The lamp is nearly extinguished." This was signed by his own hand, 
but he lingered two days longer, till the 20th December, 1821. His wishes regarding his 
burial are set forth minutely in a letter addressed to his wife a few days before he died ; 
in this singular document (see Valery, vol. i., Appendix, note to p. 19), Viterbi strictly charges 
his family to swear " eternal hatred to his persecutors " over his grave, while kneeling]. 

The Vendetta is a barbarous justice ; and the Corsican sense of justice is acknowledged 
and praised even by ancient authors. Wo, then, to him who has slain a Corsican's brother 
or kinsman ! The deed is done, the murderer flies, in double fear, of justice which will 
punish murder, and of the deceased's kindred, who will avenge it. For no sooner has the 


deed become known than the fallen man's relations seize their arms and hasten to find 
the murderer. He has escaped to the bush, to the eternal snows, and is living with the 
wild sheep ; his track his lost. But the murderer has relatives — brothers, cousins, a father ; 
these know that they must answer for the deed with their blood. So they arm, and are on 
their guard. The life of those who suffer the Vendetta is extremely miserable. Whoever has 
cause to fear the Vendetta, shuts himself up in the house, and barricades the doors and 
windows, in which he leaves only loopholes open. The windows are stopped up with straw 
and mattresses, a proceeding which is called " inceppar le fenestre." A Corsican house in 
the mountains, naturally high and narrow, almost like a tower, and with a very high flight of 
stone steps, is easily converted into a fortress. In this castle the Corsican always keeps on 
his guard, lest a ball through the windows should hit him. His kinsmen till the ground 
in arms ; they set a watch, and are not sure of a single step in the fields. Cases were told 
me in which Corsicans had not left their fortified dwellings for ten or fifteen years, and 
had passed that large portion of their life under siege and in constant fear of death. For 
Corsican revenge never sleeps, and the Corsican never forgets. To take no revenge is deemed 
dishonourable by the genuine Corsican ; the feeling of revenge is with them a natural senti- 
ment, a consecrated passion. It has in their songs become a worship, which is celebrated 
as a religion of natural affection.— Gregorovius, p. 136. 

If any one delay to avenge himself .... his relations make insinuations, and others 
slander him for not having avenged himself. The reproach of having borne an insult 
without revenging it, they call " rimbeccare." The " rimbecco " was punished by old 

Genoese statutes as an incentive to murder It is the women especially who 

instigate the men to revenge, by songs of vengeance over the body of the slain, and by 
displaying his blood-stained shirt. The mother often fixes a bloody shred from the dress of 
the murdered man upon that of the son, as a constant reminder that he has to avenge 
himself. — Gregorovius, p. 138. 

The Corsican bandit was not a thief or " brigand," but, as his name implied, one banned 
or banished by the law. In the ancient statutes of the island all those are originally called 
banditti who are banished from the island because justice has failed to get them into her 
grasp. The bandit often led a life of many years in the wild fastnesses of the mountains over 
the Niolo and other pathless regions, and innumerable stories are told of their exploits. Many 
of these, as well of the vendetta, have been worked up into tales ; among them none more 
charming than that of " Colomba," by M. Prosper Merimee. Others are Teodoro Poli, 
Gallocchio, Bracciomozzo ; renowned also are Giammarchi, who kept his ground in the bush 
for sixteen years ; Camillo Ornano, who maintained himself in the mountains for fourteen 
years ; and Joseph Antommarchi, who was bandit for seventeen years. The tales of the 
bandit life of Serafino, Arrighi, and Masoni, illustrate terribly and picturesquely the state of 
things so recently existing in Corsica. One can scarcely believe what the historian Filippini 
relates, that in his day, in thirty years 28,000 Corsicans were murdered in revenge ! According 
to the address of the Prefet of Corsica, before the assembled departmental general council, 
held in August, 1852, 4,300 murders had been perpetrated in Corsica since 1821, and 
this in an island of 250,000 inhabitants. — Gregorovius, p. 195. 

"In their own country they are disunited ; but out of it most closely bound together, and 
their souls are prepared to meet death. They all pertinaciously hold commerce in contempt. 
They are eager to avenge an insult ; and it is esteemed disgraceful not to take revenge. 
When they cannot reach him who has committed a murder, they chastise one of his relations. 
Therefore, so soon as a murder has been perpetrated, all relatives of the murderer imme- 
diately take up arms and defend themselves." (Petrus Cyrnaeus, Archdeacon of Aleria, 
writing in the fifteenth century. Edition of Peter of Corsica, Paris, 1834.) — Quoted by 
Gregorovius, p. 195. 

Here every one (says Gregorovius, writing in 1853) carries double-barrelled guns, and 
1 found half the villages under arms, like barbarians advancing against one another (a 


state of things not different from that described by Valery in 1834 (see page 45). There is 
probably no other means of certainly putting down the blood-revenge, murder, and bandit 
life, than culture and colonisation, laying down roads through the interior, increase of 
commerce, and productiveness, these, with a general disarming of the country, would put 
a new life into Corsica, an island possessing the finest climate, fruitful districts, a position 
commanding the entire Mediterranean between Spain, France, Italy, and Africa, and 
splendid gulfs and roadsteads, which, moreover, is rich in forests, minerals, medicinal 
springs, and fruits, and is inhabited by a brave, bold people, capable of great things. — 
Gregorovius, p. 150. 

" Besides their ignorance," says Filippini, " one cannot find words to express how great 
is the idleness of the islanders in tilling the ground. Even the finest plain in the world, of 
Aleria and Mariana, is desert, and they do not even chase the wild birds. But if they chance 
to become masters of a single Carlino, they imagine they shall never be in want again, and 
so they sink down into idleness and doing nothing," which (adds Gregorovius) strikingly 
describes the nature of the Corsican of the present day. " Why do they not graft the 
countless wild oleasters ? — why not the chesnut ? But they do nothing, and therefore are 

they all poor Their hostilities and their hate, their want of good faith and love, 

are almost eternal ; hence that proverb becomes true which people are wont to say, ' the 
Corsican never forgives.'" 

Filippini's book became nearly extinct, being suppressed as far as possible by the 
Genoese, of whom he had said in it many bitter truths ; but it must be allowed " bitter 
truths " were not wanting relating to his own countrymen. On the other hand, he gives them 
the praise for hospitality. " I can truly say that there is no nation in the world by which 
foreigners are more cherished, nor where they can travel more securely ; for in every part 
of Corsica they find the choicest hospitality, without having to disburse a single quattrino 
for their sustenance." — Gregorovius, p. 194. 

Would that robbery and pillage, which are so ostentatiously spoken of as never committed 
by the Corsican, were the darkest sins laid to his account ! Most commonly, the hands of the 
Corsican bandit have been stained with innocent blood, shed recklessly, relentlessly, in 
private quarrels, often of the most frivolous description, and not in open fight, as in the feuds 
of the middle ages ; not in the heat of sudden passion, but by cool premeditated murder. 

So low, however, is the moral sense in Corsica with regard to the sanctity of human life, 
that these atrocities excite no horror, and the sympathies of vast numbers of the population 
are with the bandits. They are the heroes of the popular tales and canzoni ; one hears of 
them from one end of the island to the other, round the watch-fires of the shepherds on the 
mountains, in the remote paese, by the road-side. They are the tales of the nursery ; the 
Corsican child learns, with his Ave Maria, that it is rightful and glorious to take the life of 
any one who injures or offends him. To a passionate and imaginative people these tales of 
daring courage and wild adventure have an inconceivable charm ; though stained with 
blood, they are full of poetry and romance. Such stories have been eagerly seized upon by 
writers on Corsica ; they make excellent literary capital. Unfortunately, " banditisme " 
forms so striking a feature in Corsican history, that it must necessarily occupy a conspicuous 
place in a faithful review of the genius and manners of the people. There are, doubtless, 
traits of heroism worthy of a better cause, and sometimes of a redeeming humanity, in the 
lives of the banditti : but one regrets to find — though happily not in the works of the English 
travellers who have given accounts of Corsica — a tendency to palliate so atrocious a system 
as blood-revenge. Vendetta, the name given it, has a romantic sound ; and it is treated as a 
sort of national institution, originating in high and laudable feelings, the injured sense of 
right, and the love of family ; so that with the glory shed around it by a false heroism it is 
almost raised to the rank of a virtue. 


To take blood for blood, not by the hand of public justice, but by the kinsman of the 
slain, was, we are reminded, a primitive custom, sanctioned by the usages of many nations, 
and even by the laws of Moses. We know, however, that among our Anglo-Saxon ancestors 
the laws humanely commuted this right of revenge for fines commensurate with the rank of 
the murdered person. And, while the Mosaic law forbade the acceptance of any pecuniary 
compensation for the crime of manslaughter, and expressly recognised the right of " the 
avenger of blood " to exact summary vengeance, it provided for even the murderer's security 
until he was brought to a fair trial. But Corsica, alas, has no " Cities of Refuge," and 
examples, drawn from remote and barbarous times, can afford no apology for the inveterate 
cruelties of a people enjoying the light of modern civilisation, and professing the religion of 
the New Testament. 

The Vendetta is also represented as a kind of rude justice, to which the people 
were driven in the long ages of misrule, during which law was in abeyance or corruptly 
administered. There is, no doubt, much truth in this as applied to those times ; but the 
prodigious amount of human slaughter shown in the statistics just quoted, as well as the 
continuance of this atrocious system to the present day, long after the slight shadow of 
any pretence of legal injustice has vanished, seem to argue that the ferocity which has shed 
such rivers of blood, if not instinctive in the national character, at least found a soil in which 
it took deep root. — Forester, pp. 79 — 89. 

The insurmountable difficulty met with by those who govern in Corsica has arisen from 
the character of the people — their exaggeration of all things, their fanaticism in devotion, 
in their implacable revenge, and in their modes of thought. The most futile motives 
suffice to light up secular enmity. To the most susceptible self-love is joined the constancy 
of friendship and most exclusive family affection. To the aid of their passions and enter- 
prises they bring a tenacious will, a remarkable quickness of intelligence, and the endless 
resources of a dexterity of design never at fault. The richest inhabitants of each locality are 
at the head of rival and inimical parties ; all seek public places, which offer them the double 
advantage of protecting friends or relations and humiliating enemies — intrigues without end. 
There were numerous edicts of Genoese governors and French kings, but always ineffectual, 
more or less ; edicts against carrying arms, and against banditism in 1 560 ; and against collateral 
revenge in the years 1548, 1560, 1569, 1573, 1768, 1769, 1770, 1778, and 1811, laws — all of the 
severest nature — were made against carrying arms and against banditism. It results from 
these documents that successive administrations in Corsica have many times endeavoured to 
disarm the people, and to put an end to the murders which have filled this unhappy country 
with blood ; yet, spite of the rigour of the edicts, the same crimes are reproduced for three 
centuries with more or less intensity, according to the degree of power and energy of the 
governments. The number of murders for between 1821 and 1850 was 4,319. 

The Due d'Orleans, after a tour in Corsica, thus expressed himself on the character and 
faults of the Corsicans, in a letter addressed to M. Dupin, Nov. 18, 1835 : — " In Corsica my 
task has been an easy one. The remedy for the social misfortune which torments this 
country is apparent at the first glance. Perseverance and firmness .... will result 
in overcoming those qualities, which are the only obstacle to all amelioration. Let the 
Corsican be no longer armed ; let the lower grade of functionaries be chosen from Con- 
tinentals ; cease to encourage civil war and contempt of the laws ; let the lazy, sluggish, but 
not idle population learn wants, which will force it to work more than it does at present, 
when chesnuts picked up in the woods are all that is necessary to existence, and the shade 
of trees for shelter. Let all this be accomplished by degrees, and the condition of Corsica 
will be ch.a.nged.'' , ~Gra?idc/ia//iJ>s, p. 52. 

[Some of the best pages of information on the hateful condition of Vendetta and Banditism 
are to be found in Grandchamps, at pp. 60 to 80.] 

A population which has foi many centuries, indeed, until quite recently, lived in a state of 


constant warfare against foreign tyranny and oppression cannot all at once calm down to the 
social condition of countries that have for centuries ceased to fight for their existence. Thus 
is explained the exceptional social condition that, until very recently, reigned in Corsica. 

Many Corsicans, in those days, spent years of their life barricaded in their houses, which 
they durst not leave for fear of their pursuers. Myself made the acquaintance, at Isola Rossa, 
of a gentleman, one of the leading proprietors of the island? who, a long while ago, actually 
lived for two years in the upper flat of a house in that town to avoid the " Vendetta," &c. 

A few years ago (1854) very extreme measures were adopted Two laws were 

passed by the French Chambers. By the one the entire population was disarmed. . . . 
By the other law, all persons harbouring or concealing outlaws are liable to imprisonment. — 
Bennet, pp. 232, 240, 242. 

The character of the Corsican dirges is to be understood from the nation's rites with corsican 

regard to the dead, which are very ancient There is something dark and striking poetry. 

in the fact, that the most favourite poetry of the Corsicans is the poetry of death, and that 
they compose and sing almost exclusively in the intoxication of grief. 

When death has entered a house, the relations stand round the bed of the deceased, and 
raise a cry of lamentation. The body is now laid on a table, called the tola, against the 

wall ; they watch and lament beside the tola often the whole night through But 

the grand lamentation begins on the early morning before the funeral, when the body is 
laid on the coffin, and before the funeral friars come to lift the bier. To the funeral come 
friends and relatives from all the neighbouring villages, and the assembled throng is called 
the corteo, or the scirrata ; andare alia scirrata they say in Corsica, where the women go in 
procession to the house of mourning ; if the deceased has been slain, they say andare alia 
gridata, to go to the howling. As soon as the chorus enters the house the lamenters greet 
the mourners, &c, &c. ; they make a circle, the cerchio or caracollo round the tola, and 
perform their evolutions around the deceased, howling the while, expanding the circle, or 
closing it again, and always with a cry of lamentation and the wildest tokens of grief. . . . 

. . . . Among the mountains far in the interior these ceremonies exist in the old 
heathen force, resembling the funeral dances of Sardinia. The dancing, lamenting, and 
singing, are performed by women only, who, with hair dishevelled and shed wildly over their 
breasts, with eyes that dart fire, with black mantles flying, execute evolutions, utter a howl of 
lamentation, strike the flat of their hands together, beat their breasts, weep, sob, cast them- 
selves down by the tola, &c, &c. . . . Suddenly one woman springs up from the circle and 
strikes up a song or vocero to the deceased, like an inspired seer. She delivers the song in 
recitative, strophe by strophe, and every strophe ends with a wo ! wo ! wo ! &c, &c. . . . 
It is not always the usual chorus-singers that sing, but frequently the relatives of the dead, 
the mother, wife, and especially the sisters .... moreover the form of the dirges is 
constant, so that when affliction comes, the Corsican woman must have already had frequent 
practice in the dirges, which go from mouth to mouth, as other songs with us. Thus, an 
atmosphere of gloom hangs constantly over men's heads here. When Corsican girls sit 
together, they are sure to strike up a lament, as if they wished to rehearse for the heart- 
lament which, perhaps, each of them may have to sing at the tola of a brother, a husband, or 

a child The voceri themselves may be divided into two classes— the gentler 

complaint on the death of a person deceased, or the wild, fearful song of revenge 

I know no example in the whole course of popular poetry, in which the horrible and fearful 
has, to such a degree, become the subject matter of the popular song ; and here is displayed 
the wonderful power of poetry in general, which is able to mitigate even the most terrible with 

an air of melancholy beauty The Corsican nature is also in the highest degree 

capable of the tenderest sentiments ; the ineffable guilelessness and touching native 
simplicity of many voceri remove us quite from our world to the world of children, 
shepherds, and patriarchs.— Gregorovius, pp. 279, 288. 



I have selected one out of the many affecting voceri published in Gregorovius, to give an 
idea of the dialect in which most are written. 

Some of these voceri are extremely sad and touching, especially — 

Of Nunziola, on the death of her husband. 

Of a girl, on the death of her two brothers, both slain in one day. 

Of a herdswoman of Talavo, on the death of her husband. 

Of a sister, on the death of her brother, the Bandit Canino. 

On the death of Romana, daughter of Daviola Danesi, of Luani ; &c. 


Eo partu dalle Calanche, 
Circa quattr'ore di notte ; 
Mi ne falgu cu la teda 
A circa per tutte Porte, 
Per travellu la mio vabu 
Ma li avianu datu morte. 

Cullatevene piu in su, 
Chi truvarete a Matteju ; 
Perche questu e lu mio vabu, 
E Paghiu da pienghie eju. 

Via, pigliatemi a scuzzale, 
La cazzola e lu martellu, 
Non ci vulete anda, vabu ? 
A travaglia a San Marcellu ? 
Tombu en'hanu lu mio vabu, 
E feritu u mio fratellu. 

Or cereatemi e trisore, 
E qui prestu ne venite ; 
Vogliu tondemi i capelli 
Per lupalli le ferite ; 
Chi di lu sangue di mio vabu 
N'achiu carcu le mio dite. 

Di lu vostro sangue, o vabu, 
Bogliu tinghiemi un mandile ; 
Lu mi vogliu mette a collu 
Quandu avrachiu oziu di ride. 

Eo collu per le Calanche 
Falgu per la Santa Croce, 
Sempre chiamanduvi, vabu ; 
Rispunditemi una voce ! 
Mi l'hanu crucifissata 
Cume Ghesu Cristu in croce. 


(The girl comes with a totck.) 
From Calanche I am come ; 
Midnight had just come and fled, 
When by torchlight in the gardens 
I did seek with anxious tread 
Where my father was delaying — 
In his blood I found him dead. 
{Another girl enters, seeking a kinsman also slain.) 
Further up-hill thou must climb, 
For there lies Matteo slain ; 
But this is my father here, 
Mine 'tis for him to complain. 

Take his apron and his hammer, 
And his trowel homeward bear ; 
Wilt thou not to San Marcello, 
Father, to thy work repair ? 
They have my own father slain, 
Wounded, too, my brother dear. 

Go and seek a pair of scissors, 

Bring it me, and be not slow ; 

I would cut a lock of hair, 

And with it stanch the blood's fast flow ; 

For my fingers are defiled, 

With the blood a reddened row. 

A mandile will I dye, 
Redden it in my father's gore, 
Which I'll wear when I have leisure 
Mirth and laughter out to pour. 

To Calanche I will bring thee, 
To the Church of Holy Cross, 
Ever calling thee my father ! 
Answer with thy loved voice ! 
They have crucified my father 
Like the Christ upon the cross ! 



(See p. 138.) 

Some information on the very curious habits of the larva or caterpillar of the Bombyx 
pj-ocessionis is to be found in Kirby and Spence's " Entomology," vol. ii., pp. 18, 23. The 
two following letters relating to the same insects appeared in the Magazine entitled Land 
and Water : — 

Sir, — The pine procession caterpillar {Bombyx ftrocessionis), is almost as much to be 
dreaded as the scorpion of the South. It lives in large colonies under a common web 


in the early stage. When they are full fed, however, they sally forth in procession, one 
following the other in military order, and woe betide the unlucky man who breaks their 
ranks. Mr. Jeston, British chaplain at Kissengen, told me that he was once attacked by 
a colony of these insects, from incautiously touching one of their number. He immediately 
felt a severe pain in his arm, and was dangerously ill for some days, and after the lapse of 
eight years continued to feel occasional inflammation and pain in the part over which the 
insects had crawled. It is not likely that they had a malicious intent, but that their sharp 
hairs being broken off by friction, entered the skin and occasioned this violent irritation. 
This is in accordance with the common theory, but some spirits of wine in which a number 
of these caterpillars had been preserved having a most irritating effect on the skin, I 
think it must have some poisonous secretion. -La,7id and Wate?', Feb. 8, 1868. 

Sir, — I send for exhibition in the office a dozen specimens of the caterpillar of Bombyx 
processio7iis, preserved in spirits. The interesting account of the insect by Mr. Groom- 
Napier seems to me to be perfectly accurate, except that I think he has been led by his 
reverend informant a little to over-estimate the dangerous qualities of the insect. I have 
known of two authentic instances of actual injury. In one case a caterpillar falling from a 
tree upon the neck of a lady, caused considerable irritation for the moment, and afterwards 
raised blisters. Red marks, with a sensation of heat in the part touched, lasted for several 
days. In the other case, an English gentleman not long resident in this country, a zealous, 
but not a very well-informed entomologist, took up a handful of the caterpillars for 
inspection, and felt the effects for a week afterwards in a burning sensation in the skin 
of his hands. The greatest harm they do is to the very extensive pine forests in this 
part of Portugal. It is not too much to say that every hundredth tree — in some 
places a much greater proportion — contains on its topmost shoot the web, accurately 
described by Mr. Groom-Napier, in which the caterpillar protects itself while in the pupa 
state from birds, or perhaps from wind, rain, and scorching sun-heat. The trees selected 
are generally young ones, and much stunting of growth and curvature of trunk arise from 
the eating out of the crown of the tree by the hungry broods of caterpillars. I have not 
been long enough in this country to give much information upon the habits of the insect. 
I have never seen it either in the developed or in the nympha state, but I have no doubt 
that the great bunches of pine leaves which I very frequently observe high up in the trees, 
and which, when I examined some last autumn, contained remnants of the dried skins of 
the caterpillars, are the untenanted, gregariously formed cocoons of the Bombyx processionis. 
Mr. Groom-Napier is quite correct in supposing that this poisonous insect has no "malicious 
intent." It stings when it is handled ; not unless. It is even, I think, more torpid than 
most other caterpillars. The processions are very curious, and as I do not remember to 
have seen them described, it may interest your readers to hear something about them. A 
day or two ago, while shooting in the pine woods, I came upon a procession of thirty-five 
of these caterpillars, slowly moving in a sinuous or snake-like course, and in strict Indian 
file, the head of each close to the tail of his preceder, so close, indeed, as to make me think 
they were in actual contact till I touched one to see. I then moved one caterpillar gently 
out of his place in the line, and watched the result. The whole procession stood still, 
and while I waited — about five minutes — the straggler had- not taken his vacated place in the 
line, nor had the procession resumed its march. This telegraphing both to the van and to 
the rear of some disturbance in the line of march, strikes me as very singular. An accident 
or disturbance of this sort would seem to disorganise the whole band. I once found a 
procession of about thirty caterpillars in a lane, the first three or four of which had been 
trodden upon and killed, and though this must have happened some hours before, for their 
bodies were dried up by the sun, the others had not stirred from the spot, the line being still 
perfectly preserved. I am quite disposed to agree with your correspondent that the irritating 
effect on the skin does not arise merely from the wounds caused by the numerous needle-like 
hairs of the caterpillars, but that it resides in some poisonous excretion which these hairs 
convey with them into the wounds they make. Did the irritation only result from the pene- 


tration of the hairs, we should expect it to be no greater than what is caused by handling 
some species of aloe, or by touching the hairy skin of a prickly pear. In either case the 
irritation is a mere trifle compared to the inflammation set up by the contact of Bombyx 
processionis. So convinced am I of the presence, on or in the caterpillar itself, of some acrid 
principle, capable of raising blisters on the skin, that it has more than once occurred to me> 
looking to the great abundance of the insects in this country, whether it might not be possible 
to substitute the dried and powdered bodies of this caterpillar for the commonly used 
Cantharis vesica/oria, whose tendency to produce strangury and other derangements is so 
great an objection to its employment in medicine. I should be glad to send the insects to 
any one desirous of experimenting, but I would rather not be the " corpus vile :i on whom to 
make those experiments. I have noticed these insects, or an allied species, in Italy, and I 
think in Greece and Turkey; but I believe, subject to correction from better entomologists 
than myself, that Bombyx processionis is not a native of Great Britain. I cannot find the 
insect described in Messrs. Westwood and Humphrey's great work, and I hope this 
destructive species may never find its way to our country. — Exsul (Oporto), Land and 
Water, March 7, 1868. 




1. Peter of Corsica — Petri Cyrncei de Rebus Corsicis, libri quatuor. Coming down to a.d. 1492. 

Published, from the MSS. in the Library of Louis XV., by Muratori in 1738, and in Paris, 1834. 

2. Filippint. 

" Filippini's is the chief work on Corsican history. . . . The first worker at it was 
Giovanni della Grossa, a lieutenant and secretary of Vincentello d'lstria. He collected the 
old legends and traditions of the island, and brought its history down to the year 1464. His 
pupil, Monteggiani, continued it to the year 1525 ; Ceccaldi brought it down to the year 
x 559 ? an d Filippini to 1594, in which year it was first published at Tournon. Of the 
thirteen books of the whole, he thus wrote only the last four ; but, as he revised the whole 
work, it now bears his name. M. Pozzo di Borgo earned great thanks from his country by 
setting on foot a new edition of Filippini, conducted by the learned Corsican, Gregori, &c. 
It appeared at Pisa in 1827 (five vols)." — Gregorovius, p. 193 ; Valery, i., p. 24. 

3. An Account of Corsica. By James Boswell. 1768. 

" Boswell was the first Englishman who penetrated into Corsica, and his account of it is 
valuable for its research, its description, and its history of the times. The details contained in 
it concerning Paoli are only equalled by his Johnsoniana for the minute and vivid portraiture 
of his hero's life, opinions, character, and habits." — Forester, p. 168. 

4. Sketches of Corsica ; or, a Journal written during a Visit to that Island in 

1823. By Robert Benson. London. 1825. 

The experience of Mr. Benson, who visited Corsica on business connected with the will of 
General Paoli, was confined to Ajaccio and Bastia, and to the road between those places, 
but his book will, be found full of interesting information concerning the state of the island at 
the period of his visit, and abounding with accurate description of the scenery, and of the 
manners and habits of the Corsicans. 

5. Voyages en Corsk, a l'Ile d'Elbe, et en Sardaigne. Par M. Valery, Bibliothecaire du 

Roi, &c. Paris. 1837. 

A work replete with valuable details, and by no means open to the censure of the author 
of Murray's "Handbook for Corsica," who says the author of the "Voyages" did not 
"venture far off the high roads." M. Valery, on the contrary, during a stay of five months 
in the island, visited nearly every spot in it, not excepting the summit of Monte Rotondo ; and 
his cheery enjoyment of travelling gives a great charm to his book, none the less interesting 
from his having become nearly blind during the latter part of his stay. I should be ungrateful 
not to acknowledge the value of his book to me, for it was the only one I had in Corsica. 

6. Histoire de la Corse. Par M. Camille Friess. Bastia. 1852. 

7. AbregE de la Geographie de l'Ile de Corse. Par F. C. Marmocchi. Bastia. 1852. 


8. Corsica in its Picturesque, Social, and Historical Aspects : the Record of a Tour in 
the Summer of 1852. By Ferdinand Gregorovius. Translated from the German by Russell 
Martineau, M. A. London. 1855. Longman and Co. 

This volume is full of delightful reading from end to end, abounding with true and 
beautiful description, as well as with information as to the history of Corsica, the habits of the 
people, its landscapes, poetry, and picturesque legends. The author's description of his 
wanderings on the northern shore of the island, especially in the vicinity of lie Rousse, his 
particulars of the life of King Theodore, his account of Bonifacio and its caverns are all 
interesting. Dr. Bennet does well in recommending those who go to Corsica to read 
Gregorovius, and all should provide themselves with so pleasant a companion. 

9. La Corse, sa Colonisation et son Role dans la Mediterra.nee. Par Conte Grandchamps, 
Ingenieur des Ponts et Chaussees. Paris. 1859. Hachette et Co. 

A valuable scientific work, particularly in its numerous details concerning the present 
condition of the island, its means of communication, &c. 

10. Rambles in the Islands of Corsica and Sardinia. By Thomas Forester. Longman and 
Co. 1861. 

11. Histoire Illustree de la Corse. Par 1' Abbe Jean- Ange Galletti. Paris. 1863. 

A laborious compilation of information, illustrated by numerous small engravings. 

12. Winter in the South of Europe. By J. Henry Bennet, M.D. London. 1865. 

It is needless to dilate on the reputation of this excellent book ; that part of it relating to 
Corsica contains one of the best published accounts of the island, and is particularly simple in 
all details relating to the healthiness of its climate. Dr. Bennet, who has also written articles 
concerning Corsica in the Gardeners' Chronicle for June 20th, 1868, and in the Lancet, 
August 1st, 1868, maybe said to have been the first person who pointed out Corsica as possess- 
ing a climate to which persons of delicate health may be sent. 

13. Notks on the Island of Corsica in 1868. By Thomasina M. A. E. Campbell. London. 

1868. Hatchard. 

An unpretending excellent little book, written in a pleasant spirit, and with an accuracy 
derived from personal examination of everything described. 

14. Die Insel Corsica. By Dr. A. Biermann. Hamburgh. 1868. 

Contains much valuable information on the mineral springs and baths of the island. 

15. The Alpine Journal. Longman and Co. Nos. 25 and 26. 

Contains an article on Corsica by the Rev. W. PI. Hawker well worth reading. 

16. A Winter in Corsica. By Two Ladies. Sampson Low, Son, and Co. 

17. Handbook for Corsica and Sardinia. Murray, Albemarle Street. 1869. 


Aitone, no, 118, 131, 137, 138, 145 

Ajaccio, 6—30, 115— 119, 151— 156, 252 

Alata, 16, 31 

Aleria, 60, 75, 80, 162, 175, 178, 179 

Algayola, 219, 220 

A regno, 227 

Artica, Monte, 133, 139, 145 

Asco, 224, 236 

Avapessa, 228 


Balagna, 172, 215, 216, 223 — 227, 232 
Barraconi, 32, 109 
Bastelica, 21, 28, III, 113, 242 
Bastia, 189, 191, 192, 193, 208 
Bavella, 17, 47, 75, 89, 90— 97 
Belgodere, 224, 229, 230, 231, 232 
Bicchisano, 36, 38, 106, 245, 250 
Bocca, St. Sebastiano, 119, 120, 157 
Bocognano, 21, 158, 159 
Bombyx Processionis, 137, 138 
Bonifacio, 17, 27, 57 — 64 
Boracci, River, 36, 44, 100 
Borgo, 190, 191 
Brando, 197 

Calcatoggio, 120, 15 1 

Caldarello, 57 

Calenzana, 221, 222 

Calvi, 221 — 225 

Campo di Loro, 31, 252 

Cap Corse, 194, 195, 228 

Capo Moro, 21 

Capo Rosso, 128 

Carghese, 14, 119, 120, 121 — 127 

Casabianda, 60, 75, 80 — 83, 173, 176 

Casalabriva, 39, 106 

Cattari, 228 

Cauro, 29, 32, 33, 34, 109 

Castifao, 223 

Castelluccio, 16, 29, 153, 155 

Cervione, 82, 180—182 

Cinto, Monte, 139 

Chiomi, Gulf of, 127 

Cognano, 199 

Col de Sorba, 242, 252 

Col de Verde, 36, 243, 244 

Col San Giorgio, 35, 109, 251 

Corbara, 219, 227 

Corte, 157, 164—173, 236—238 

Coscione, 72 

Costa, 229 

Cozzano, 246 

Cristinaccie, 136, 146 


Erbalunga, 197, 199 

Etang di Biguglia, 189, 209 

Etang de Diane, 176 

Evisa, 110, 126, 132, 135, 146, 147 

Feliceto, 229 
Figari, Gulf of, 5 7 
Fiumorbo River, 79, 84 
Frassetto, 250 
Furiani, 190 

Ghisonaccio, 72, 79, 84, 242 
Ghisoni, S3, 152, 177, 242, 243 
Giunchetto, 55 
Golo River, 139, 144, 189 
Gravona River, 31, 157, 159 
Grosseto, 36, 107, 109 
Guagno, 120, 147, 148 
Guitera, 246, 247, 248, 249, 25 1 


fie Rousse, 216, 217, 218, 219 
Incudine, Mount, 47, 72, 75, 82, 99, 175 

La Piana, 126, 128 — 130, 136 

Lavatoggio, 228 

Levie, 47, 99 

Liamone River, 120, 150 

Liscia, 120 

Lucciana, 190 

Lugo, 164, 238 

Lumio, 221, 222, 227 

Luri, 195, 200, 203, 207 




Macinaggio, 195, 199 

Mariana, 177, 189, 209 

Marmano, 83, 152, 177, 242 — 244 

Migliaciarra, 72, 75, 78, 85, 87, 242 

Milelli, 16, 153, 154, 155 

Monaccia, 56 

Monticelli, 217 

Monte Cinto, 233 

Monte D'Oro, 157, 158, 159, 163, 242 

Monte Incudine, 250 

Monte Padro, 233 

Monte Renoso, 243 

Monte Rotondo, 242 

Morosaglia, 236 

Moufflon, 30, 164, 239 

Murato, 228 

Muro, 228, 229 


Nebbio, 197, 210, 211, 215, 216 
Niolo, 137, 139 

Occhiatona, 229 
Olmeto, 27, 36, 40, 106, 251 
Ohm, 233 
Ortola, River, 55 
Ostricone, 215 
Otta, 131, 133, 146 

Paomia, 122 
Pero, Gulf of, 127 
Piannatoli, 57 
Pietra Corbara, 199 
Pietrapola, Baths of, 78, 84, 85 
Pinarello, Gulf of, 73 
Ponte della Leccia, 224, 234 — 236 
Ponte del Vecchio, 240 
Ponte Francardo, 236 
Ponte Nuovo, 236 
Porticciolo, 199 

Porto, Gulf of, no, 126, 131, 132 
Porto Favone, 74 
Porto Polio, 39, 245 
Porto Vecchio, 17, 27, 65—72 
Propriano, 36, 44, 105 
Prunelli, 31, 32 
Punto della Fautea, 73 


Quasquara, 251 

Quenza, 72 


Renoso, Monte, 32, 39, 82, 106, 157 — 159 

Restonica, River, 165 

Rogliano, 195 

Rotondo, Monte, 82, 120, 163, 167 

Roccaspina, Cape, 56 

Sagona, Gulf of, 119, 120, 125, 148, 150 

Sagona, 252 

San Gavino, 98 

Santa Columbana, 224, 232 

Santa Giulia, 65 

Santa Lucia (di Porto Vecchio), 73 

Santa Maria di Venaco, 163, 238, 242 

Santa Maria Zicche, 36, in, 249 

St. Antoine, 16, 29, 156 

Sant Antonino, 227 

St. Florent, 210, 211, 212, 213, 214 

Santa Reparata, 217 

Sardinia, 57, 63, 70 

Sari, 119, 148, 151, 252 

Sariola, 157 

Sartene, 17, 27, 36, 45 — 53. 104 

Serraggio, 163, 164, 239, 240 

Sevato, 256 

Sisco, 199 

Solenzaro, 17, 72, 74, 75, 87, 88, 89 

Sollacaro, 39, 250 

Sorba, 117, 152, 241 

Spedale, 17, 69, 70 

Speloncato, 229 

Stabiaccia, 65 

Suarella, 32 

Surbalaconi, Bagni di, 107 

Taravo, River, 36, 38, 106, 107, 245, 250, 251 

Tarco, River, 74 

Tallano, Santa Lucia di, 45, 47, 49, ioo — 104 

Tavaria, River, 44, 48, 49, 100, 104 

Tavignano, River, 80, 162, 164, 172, 174, 175, 178 

Travo, River, 77 

Ucciani, 157 


Vabolesco, 77, 84 

Valdoniello, 109, 118, 126, 137, 139, 140 — 145 

Valinco, Gulf of, 36, 39, 44, 100, 245 

Vecchio, River, 163 

Ventilegne, Gulf of, 57 

Vescovato, 183, 184, 185, 186 

Venzolasca, 183 

Vico, no, 118, 126, 147, 149 

Villa, 229 

Vivario, 156, 165, 240, 241, 242 

Vizzavona, 162 

Zicavo, 36, 102, in, 152, 246, 247 
Zonza, 47, 89, 98 



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